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BY RICHARD SCHICKEL 



designed by ALLEN HURLBUR 



THE STARS 

BY RICHARD SCHICKEL 

Designed by 
ALLEN HURLBURT 



THE STARS is the most beautiful book 
about the movies ever published. An extraordi- 
nary union of arresting pictures and discerning 
text, it distills and enlivens the essence of more 
than one hundred star personalities. In so doing 
it examines those forces of personality, public 
demand and professional tactics which converge 
to create a star. At long last, there is a definitive 
book which gives an authoritative answer to the 
question: "What makes a star?" 

Here are the prototypical stars — William S. 
Hart, Mary Pickford, Theda Bara, Douglas Fair- 
banks, The Keystone Kops — who established the 
great tradition of screen stardom. And here are 
the great stars of the twenties who broadened that 
tradition and made it a part of everyone's life: 
Rudolph Valentino, surprisingly fragile and pa- 
thetic; Garbo, the enigmatic ikon; Von Stroheim, 
the militant genius; John Barrymore, acting out 
his private tragedy in public; Wallace Reid and 
John Gilbert, the fallen idols; Clara Bow, Gloria 
Swanson, Pola Negri, Mae Murray, even Tom 
Mix, cowboy to the jazz age. 

Here, too, is a section devoted to the screen's 
great comedians: the incomparable Chaplin and 
his superb silent contemporaries — Keaton, Lang- 
don and Lloyd — plus the men who strived so 
mightily to maintain the comic tradition after the 
arrival of sound — The Marx Brothers, W. C. 
Fields, Walt Disney. 

Mr. Schickel and Mr. Hurlburt masterfully 
illuminate the effect of sound on the stars, how 
it changed our relationship to them and how it 
changed the very nature of movies themselves. 
Here are word and picture profiles on the Singing 
Boys and Dancing Girls, the mobsters, monsters, 
midgets and athletes who lightened our burdens 
in depression days. There are also appreciations 
of such superb stylists as Fred Astaire and 
Katherine Hepburn, delightful recollections of 
such refreshing heroines as Jean Harlow, Bette 
Davis, Marlene Dietrich, Carole Lombard. 

Another section is devoted to a warmly percep- 
tive discussion of five great American heroes — 
Gary Cooper, Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, 
Spencer Tracy and James Stewart — who rose to 
fame in the thirties and whose wondrous hold 
on the national imagination has persisted into 
our own time. 

Because THE STARS is a book which beau- 
tifully balances its appreciation for the nostalgic 

[Continued on back /Z«p] 




37417 NilesBlvd oSsS/} 510-494-1411 

Fremont, CA 94536 www.nilesfilmmuseum.org 



Scanned from the collections of 
Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum 



Coordinated by the 
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Funded by a donation from 
Jeff Joseph 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

Media History Digital Library 



http://archive.org/details/starsOOschi 



THE STARS 



THE 



STARS 



BY RICHARD SCHICKEL 

designed by 

ALLEN HURLBURT 



BONANZA BOOKS • NEW YORK 



This guide to a most peculiar American institution 

is dedicated to Susan Hurlburt and to 

Samuel and Matthew Whedon, three small strangers 

in our land, in hopes that it will help them 

to understand what in the world their 

parents are talking about. 



Copyright © MCMLXH by Richard Schickel and Allen Hurlburt 
All rights reserved. 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 62-17683 
Manufactured in the United States of America. 

This edition published by Bonanza Books, 
a division of Crown Publishers, Inc., 
by arrangement with The Dial Press. 
(A) 



FOREWORD 



This book is an impressionistic rather than an exhaustive 
history of the institution of movie stardom. Literally hun- 
dreds of men, women, children and animals have, at one 
time or another, received billing above the title of a film 
and are thus entitled, by the broadest possible definition, 
to the appellation "star." Our criteria in the selection of 
names to be included in this study have been, perforce, much 
narrower than that. In general, we have striven to give most 
space to that handful of people who have been superstars, 
personalities who have dominated the screen for long periods 
of time and who, by the force of their presence, have altered 
the nature of screen content. Of those stars whose course was 
briefer, but whose light was sometimes more intense, we 
have tried to include people who were peculiarly repre- 
sentative of the nation's mood at a given moment or who 
answered some particularly pressing socio-psychological 
need. At this level our choice was wider and we were guided 
partly by the availability of good photographs and partly 
by personal taste. It is especially true of this subject that 
individuals develop strange attractions to unlikely per- 
formers, equally inexplicable dislikes for others. Both author 
and designer have tried to keep the expression of their own 
eccentricities of taste to a minimum. But it is only fair to say 
that in those instances when everything else was equal, we 
chose to include the actor or actress we had — or have— 
a sneaking fondness for. 

As to our general purpose, the book itself should make 
that clear. We believe that the picture-book form is pe- 
culiarly suited to this subject and, however frequently the 
form has been misused in the past, we believe that it is 
possible to make serious statements through the intelligent 
use of it. Though we believe the book to be both beautiful 
and amusing, we also hope, through the use of the star as 
metaphor, we have said something useful about the social 
history of our times and, certainly, about the history of a 
medium that has been the most important purveyor of pop- 
ular culture in this century. Indeed, we hope that we have 
redressed an imbalance that has existed for a long time in 
serious writing about the films. Most critics have concen- 
trated on the contributions of the director to the developing 



aesthetic of movies. This is, of course, the best way to ap- 
proach European films, as well as American films made 
before the rise of the studio system in Hollywood. It may 
again become, in this day of independent production, the 
best way of dealing with American film history. But from, 
roughly, 1920 to 1950, American films, for the most part, 
have been tailored to fit the special talents of their stars. The 
presence of those stars together with the commercial judg- 
ment of the producers — a judgment that, to say the least, 
is not always sound— has, more than any other single factor, 
determined what we see. It is the specific nature of this 
influence that we attempt to demonstrate in this book. 

The careful reader will be aware of the author's debt to 
several critics and commentators. So that there can be no 
doubt as to his intellectual mentors, he would like to list 
them here and pay tribute to their benign influence on his 
thinking and writing. They are: James Agee, Manny Farber. 
Parker Tyler, Kenneth Tynan and Robert Warshow. On 
specific points each and all of them have guided me, but 
more important, their shared attitude, which is one of love 
for the movies, not cultural superiority toward them, has 
been of great comfort to me. 

The Stars could not have been produced without access 
to two fine collections of stills, one belonging to the Mu- 
seum of Modern Art and the other to Culver Pictures. ^ e 
wish to thank these institutions and their dedicated em- 
ployees for their aid. Thanks are due also to several private 
collections whose aid has been invaluable to us. The author's 
special gratitude is directed toward his wife, Julia \^ hedon 
Schickel, who not only did the major share of our basic 
picture research, but also undertook dozens of the essential 
chores of fact-finding and organization, served as a sounding 
board for ideas and, most important of all, bore with pa- 
tience, fortitude and a sense of humor, the writers grumpy 
manner of working. She has always loved the movies almost 
as much as I do. I hope she still does. 

Richard Schickel 

New York 



CONTENTS 



INTRODUCTION 9 

THE PROTOTYPES 19 

The Sennett Stable, William S. Hart, Theda Bara, Mary Pickford, 
Douglas Fairbanks 

THE TWENTIES 39 

Rudolph Valentino, Gloria Swanson, Pola Negri, Mae Murray, 
Clara Bow, Wallace Reid, Norma Talmadge, Dolores Del Rio, 
Dolores Costello, Norma Shearer, John Barrymore, Joan Crawford, 
Lon Chaney, Erich Von Stroheim, Tom Mix, Some Lovers , 
John Gilbert, Greta Garbo 

THE COMEDIANS 89 

Charles Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harry Langdon, Harold Lloyd, 
The Marx Brothers, W. C. Fields, Mickey Mouse 

THE THIRTIES 113 

Mae West, Dick Powell, James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, 
Jean Harlow, Myrna Loy, Marlene Dietrich, The Monsters, 
Marie Dressier, Shirley Temple, Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, 
Fred Astaire, Paul Munij, Bette Davis, Leslie Howard, Charles Boyer, 
Carole Lombard, Henry Fonda, Claudette Colbert, Tyrone Power, 
Fredric March, Barbara Stanwyck, Katherine Hepburn, 
The Athletes, Errol Flynn, John Garfield, Orson Welles 

FIVE HEROES 183 

Gary Cooper, Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, 
James Steivart 

THE FORTIES 211 

Hedy Lamarr, Les Girls, Rita Hay worth, Greer Gar son, Margaret O'Brien, 
Van Johnson, June Ally son, Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant, John Wayne, 
Ava Gardner, Gregory Peck 

THE FIFTIES 243 

Alan Ladd, Kim Novak, William H olden, Burt Lancaster, 
Montgomery Clift, Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Deborah Kerr, 
Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Charleton Heston, 
Rock Hudson, Shirley MacLaine, Jack Lemmon, Sophia Loren, 
Tony Curtis, Elizabeth Taylor 

THE END 282 

INDEX 284 




INTRODUCTION 



Many intelligent people are vaguely suspicious of the 
movies. Movies, they say, are not "serious." Nevertheless — 
and unfortunately — they go to the movies. They can't help 
themselves; they need the comforting darkness, the aban- 
donment of reality, the startling immediacy of fantasy which 
can be found at the neighborhood movie house. But films 
being declasse, these people have had to discover cultural 
attitudes to legitimatize their attendance. They have found 
two. One is the insistence that movies are art and going 
to see them is a quest for aesthetic enlightenment on the 
same level as theatergoing, gallery-trotting or the reading 
of Henry James. The other, wrapped in the warmly pro- 
tective cloak of social science, is the view that the film is 
a way of sampling public opinion; at the movies, it claims, 
you can measure popular sexual attitudes, the level of un- 
conscious violence in the society, even the shifts in the socio- 
political wind. 

Both of these attitudes have been productive, at their 
best, of some provocative writing, but neither has given 
a total picture of the experience of the movies as most of 
us understand it. It is almost impossible to retain critical 
objectivity about the movies. It is the nature of the medium 
to hit below the belt. One is drawn into a film in such a way 
that visceral responses quite overcome critical faculties. All 
is lost, save attitudes which are hastily readjusted, once the 
film is over, much in the way the clothes of teen-dge lovers 
are readjusted — hastily, and with a great pretense of non- 
chalance — when a cop's flashlight suddenly shines through 
the window of the parked car. 

In short, the attitudes we take to the movies generally 
prevent us from fully understanding what we see and even 



The old Hollywood meets the new, in the best movie about 
movies ever made, Sunset Boulevard. In a projection room 
Gloria Swanson, as the forgotten star, recalls her youth 
and that of Hollywood for William Holden. In their styles, 
director Billy Wilder found the perfect contrast between 
the old grand manner and the new naturalism. The film they 
are watching is Queen Kelly, a 1930 Swanson film, directed 
by Erich Von Stroheim, but never released by Paramount. 



prohibit the full enjoyment of the film. Nowhere is this more 
apparent than in serious discussions of the role of the 
movie star in film history. As we shall shortly see, the star 
stands at the very center of movie economics (at least in 
America, which has no tradition of the art film ) and it is to 
his public image that all movies, no matter how high their 
professed artistic aims, are tailored. Yet one can read essay 
after essay, book after book, and find nothing about stars 
more pertinent than brief discussions of performances, 
couched in the inapplicable terms of the stage. Serious and 
semiserious discussions all revolve around the question of 
whether X is a good actor, or whether he is an actor at all. 
The position of this book is that the question is irrelevant. 
Movie stars are not usually, or necessarily, actors; they are 
. . . movie stars. The two occupations are entirely different, 
although they are sometimes compatible. 

Further, the importance of the star to the movies has 
changed the very nature of the individual film product. "The 
growth of the film personality," says Frank Getlein, "meant 
the death of the movie as one of the fictional arts. The two 
ideas are in violent opposition; the personality eliminates 
the director and substitutes the publicity man as the guid- 
ing force in film making; and the creation and merchandis- 
ing of daydreams is a direct contradiction of the art of fic- 
tion." Obviously the theories of film aestheticians, which 
revolve around the skill of the director in creating art 
works to be judged by the conventional standards of fiction, 
are rendered meaningless in this context. The social psychol- 
ogists concentrate too heavily on film content, too little on 
the nature of the personalities which shape that content. 

This book is an attempt to redress that balance. Generally 
speaking, the author devotes the greater share of his effort 
to extracting from films the essence of the personalities for 
which they were vehicles rather than to the content and in- 
tent of the vehicle itself. In these essences, I feel, lies a 
great deal (but not all) of the truth about the non-art of 
the movies. The book takes no moral position about whether 
American movies would have been better or worse had they 
not succumbed to the cult of personality. All we can say for 
certain is that they would have been different. 

It may comfort those who regard the star system as a 
sin and a shame to know that it was created by popular 
demand, over the objections of the pioneering movie moguls. 
Stars apparently answered a deeply felt human need, but 
these needs were not in the beginning and are not to this 
day exploited with any great cleverness by the movie mak- 
ers. Star quality being such an elusive and ill-defined 



thing, film producers have always operated on a cafeteria 
basis, placing before the public any number of tasty morsels, 
then sitting back to see which of them the public hungers 
for most deeply. One of the surprising things anthropologist 
Hortense Powdermaker discovered when she investigated 
Hollywood was that "there is rarely a well-thought-out pro- 
gram of how a studio could make a good star." Selection 
is usually — but not always — left to chance, and more often 
than not the movie men themselves are surprised by its 
workings. They were similarly surprised, in the beginning, 
by the potential of the star system, by the strength of the 
bond that was created between stars and audience. 

In the beginning, there were no such things as stars. 
In the Nickelodeon Era, when the production end of the 
industry was located in New York, it was almost impossible 
to get stage actors of any kind, stars or not, to work in 
the movies. Salaries were infinitesimal, prestige non-existent. 
Those crude geniuses of fast-dollar finance who controlled 
the infant industry found a style they considered suitably 
broad and a refreshing eagerness to work for five or ten 
dollars a day among unemployed bit players and vaudevil- 
lians. They became the backbone of an industry determined 
to maximize profits by producing on the cheap. Hangdog, 
the actors crept, under the cover of assumed names, out to 
Fort Lee, New Jersey, there to sit uneasily on horses dur- 
ing the production of Westerns, or to the wilds of the Bronx 
or Brooklyn, or to downtown Manhattan, where the come- 
dies and dramas of social conscience (usually about the 
perils of drink or of the evils which might befall the in- 
nocent working girl) were shot. 

The public for these films was a gloriously innocent 
one, made up chiefly of immigrants and other members of 
the lower economic orders. For them, lack of sound and 
the resulting lack of subtle ideas were a positive boon. 
For once they could relax in comforting darkness and aban- 
don their struggles with that most intractable of tongues — 
English. In an atmosphere redolent of sweat and cheap 
perfume, for the price of a nickel, they were able to par- 
ticipate in fantasies of the most satisfying kind. Since it 
was obligatory that the endings of these little films be happy, 
with the man or woman of the people emerging triumphant 
over the uniformly sappy representatives of privilege, a 
curious phenomenon began to take place. The canaille 
began to identify with both the sufferings and the triumphs 
of their screen counterparts. And by 1910, letters addressed 
to "The Waif" or "The Man with the Sad Eyes" began to 
trickle into the studios. 



10 



Florence Lawrence, the first Biograph girl, was 
rescued from anonymity by Carl Laemmle and, in 1910, 
became the first modern style movie star. Her star career 
was brief and she ended up, in the thirties, playing bits. 




This development caused great alarm to the men in con- 
trol of the studios, particularly those who had joined with 
Thomas Edison in the so-called trust, a generally unsuccess- 
ful attempt to limit the production of films. If the actors 
learned that the public had singled out certain members of 
the fraternity for special favor, they would undoubtedly 
begin to demand more money for their services, thereby 
upsetting the delicate economic balance of the industry. 

As if this were not bad enough, the industry was har- 
boring in its midst a saboteur of the conventional wisdom. 
D. W. Griffith, a reformed actor with literary aspirations, 
began to direct films for Biograph in 1908. The Biograph 
years were, for Griffith, ones of experiment, learning how 
to break all the old, static rules of movie making, teaching 
the camera to move, learning how to edit his film in order 
to create the illusion of life's rhythm rather than that of 
the stage. In the course of creating for the film a new basic 
grammar, Griffith kept moving his camera closer, ever 
closer to the faces of his actors. He quickly discovered its 
cruelty, particularly in those days of flat, harsh lighting and 
bad film. He needed unlined, youthful faces for his close- 
ups, just as he needed unwrinkled minds which he could 
command absolutely. He had no need of older actors, set 
in their ways and impervious to his imperious ego. He there- 
fore built a stock company of malleable, youthful players, 
among them Blanohe Sweet, Mae Marsh, Mabel Normand, 
Linda Arvidson (Griffith's wife), Lillian and Dorothy Gish, 
and Florence Lawrence, perhaps the least important talent 
of the group, but a girl who was shortly to play a revolu- 
tionary role in movie history. 

Thus the stage was set for the emergence of the beauti- 
ful people, the stars. The public had begun to find them 
out, despite the best efforts of the industry to conceal their 
identities. And within the industry a new way of making 
films was creating a genuine artistic demand for youth and 
beauty. 

It remained only for Carl Laemmle to put the two demands 
together and create that strange being we know today as the 
Movie Star. The instrument of his will was Miss Florence 
Lawrence, already a minor celebrity as the original Biograph 
girl. In 1910 Laemmle offered Miss Lawrence a thousand 
dollars a week for her exclusive services to IMP (Independ- 
ent Motion Picture Company ) . He launched her into starry 
orbit with characteristic dash. Shortly after signing her, he 
planted a fake story in the press stating that Miss Lawrence 
had been killed beneath the wheels of a trolley car in 
St. Louis. Then he rushed into print crying not merely that 



11 



the report was grossly exaggerated, but that it was, indeed, 
the work of the monstrous movie trust, just one more 
example of the lengths to which it would go to crush its 
struggling competition. Miss Lawrence, cried Laemmle, was 
in flourishing health and, to prove it, she would visit 
St. Louis, accompanied by her leading man, King Baggott. 
All and sundry were invited to come down to the station to 
see for themselves that she was as alive and lovely as ever. 
Hundreds turned out for the first personal appearance in 
movie history and admirers "demonstrated their affection by 
tearing the buttons off Florence Lawrence's coat, the trim- 
mings from her hat, the hat from her head." 

Within a year, the stock company Griffith had built at 
Biograph was partly destroyed by the independents, who 
were quick to follow Laemmle's lead. In the somehow charm- 
ing jungle that was the movie business in its early days, 
vigorous and wildly aggressive companies that existed out- 
side the trust (and outside the written, if not the moral, law) 
were in desperate need of any competitive edge they could 
seize. The creation and marketing of stars was such an edge. 
Indeed, it is not too much to say that the creation of the star 
system was the chief factor in the transformation of the 
movie business from a struggling, squabbling collection of 
small concerns into the monolithic industry which it was at 
the height of its power. 

Stars gave to the business the stability of mass production. 
You could predict very closely the probable profits of a 
major star's vehicle, and it was like money in the bank to 
know that you had a number of such items in various stages 
of production. You merely kept grinding them out, sure in 
the knowledge that, if you didn't radically change the for- 
mula, profits would follow as the night the day. Thus did 
production line methods come to the movies just as new 
methods of distribution, through nationwide chains of 
exchanges, were creating a need for standardized mass- 
produced products. Three years after the historic Florence 
Lawrence publicity coup, everyone had taken to the star sys- 
tem, the first fan magazine (owned by Vitagraph) had begun 
publication, and the mills of personal publicity had begun 
their inexorable grind. 

The first stars, as noted, had been created by the public. 
Through the mysterious process known as identification, 
large numbers of people had come to see something of them- 
selves (or, at least, the fantasy image of themselves) in vari- 
ous screen personalities. And, in the period between 1910 
and 1920, the great prototype screen personalities began to 
appear. These stars were archetypes, all unaware of the 
common chord they set reverberating in millions of people. 



They became models for hundreds who were to follow. 

Of them, the Keystone Kops, William S. Hart, Mary 
Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks were, in a sense, originals. 
Only one of the great prototypes, Theda Bara, was a totally 
made-up creature, the "invention" of William Fox. She was 
a little Ohio girl who, through adroit make-up, careful selec- 
tion of stories and, most importantly, a spectacular publicity 
campaign, was transformed into a symbol of exotic sexuality, 
a figure, indeed, so exaggerated as to be comically grotesque. 
She was, as they say, just too much, and she was rather 
quickly laughed off the screen. But as a totally fabricated 
personality, she represented a radical reversal of what, for 
the first few years of the star system, had been the usual way 
of doing business. Until then, the creation of stars had been 
a fairly natural phenomenon; an actor would be noticed by 
the public in a small part, his talents would be nurtured and 
publicized by a shrewd studio and, finally, in the good old 
American pluck-and-luck way, he would achieve his peculiar 
destiny — movie stardom. Now, following the lead of William 
Fox, the moguls realized that the process could be reversed — 
the public could be made to accept, through the assiduous 
use of publicity techniques, almost anyone the studios 
thought they should. At least, this was the opinion of two 
disparate groups, cynics within the industry and the ever- 
poised moralists and intellectual critics to whose voluminous 
recordings of every Hollywood mistake, failure and lapse of 
taste all of us owe so much. 

In point of fact, it is extremely difficult to make a great star 
out of ordinary clay. It has been done, but it is not easy. And 
Hollywood is strewn with the wreckage of careers for which a 
flourish of expertly beaten drums was sent rolling across the 
land, but which failed to make it with the public. For proof 
one need only glance at the career of Marion Davies, whom 
all the millions of Hearst and M-G-M could not make a truly 
first-rate star, or at Vera Hruba Ralston, who was married to 
Herbert Yates, president of Republic Pictures. Mr. Yates did 
everything he could for his wife, soaring far above and be- 
yond the call of connubial duty. The result was nothing short 
of disastrous. And when,- a few years ago, a group of stock- 
holders sought to oust Mr. Yates from control of his studio, 
one of the chief charges brought against his management was 
this expensive bit of nepotism. Yates lost his job. 

So, it is almost impossible to create demand for an 
individual star when none exists in the unconscious minds 
of the audience. But the demeaning ordeals through which 
the would-be star is put by an industry which is particularly 
brutal in pursuit of profits has had its effect. Simply put, it 
has made the task of being a star incredibly difficult in terms 



12 




of its demands on psychological stamina. In addition, there 
is the problem of survival. 

Anxiety is the feeling of powerlessness in circumstances 
beyond the control of the individual. No one is less powerful 
than a film star in the face of sudden public indifference to 
his art or his charms. He must live under the constant threat 
that the audience may turn away from him. It takes a more 
than usually powerful ego to live successfully with that threat, 
especially in an industry which, according to Hortense 
Powdermaker, is at great pains, for reason of deep envy, to 
demean the star. They are, she says, "looked down upon as 
a kind of sub-human species. No one respects them. . . . They 
are often described as children who don't know what is good 
for them, immature, irresponsible, completely self-centered, 
egotistical, exhibitionistic, nitwits, and utterly stupid." She 
adds, rather dryly, "Part of this description is reminiscent 
of white attitudes in the Deep South toward Negroes." No 
wonder that in recent years stars have been tumbling over 
one another in their eagerness to set up their own production 
companies. There are sound tax and business reasons for 
this, of course, but there is another — improved status. The 
fight for human dignity takes some strange turns. 

Since it is currently fashionable to do so, let us take a 
middle-of-the-road position. Some stars are indeed "im- 
mature" (et cetera), and some are not; but all are cursed 
with having to contend with our strange ambivalence toward 
them and their work. Miss Powdermaker observes that "in 
primitive society there is a deep biological tie between the 
people and their mythical heroes, since these are also their 
ancestors. They are important to all members of the clan or 
tribe, young and old, and the myths and folk tales about them 
serve as sanctions for behavior and customs." This is the 
beginning of wisdom about stars and their value to us as 
individuals. 

But it is hard wisdom to accept. People who don't like 
movies, or who take an attitude of either cultural or moral 
superiority toward them, accept the idea gleefully enough. 



I). W . Griffith (right), dapper 
though out of work, visits 
Cecil B. DeMille on the set 
of King of Kings in 1936. 

But the average person is unconsciously resentful of this 
knowledge. Its implication is that he has need of false gods, 
gods which will bring him gifts of pleasure that he is in- 
capable of securing for himself through his own imagination. 
This may account for his love-hate relationship with his 
stars. Something within him responds mightily to their pres- 
ence; he can't help that. But something, possibly our culture, 
tells .him that this should not be so. He is angry with what he 
thinks of as his own weakness, transfers this anger to his 
favorites, but holds it in check until they make some kind of 
misstep, either on screen or in their personal lives. Then his 
scornful anger knows no bounds, and no punishment is too 
great for the transgressors. He may emulate their behavior, 
their style, for a time, but he is always waiting for the mo- 
ment when he can smite down his gods. 

This was particularly true in the days of the silent screen. 
At that time, the stars were much more abstractions than 
they were real people. They personified, each in his different 
way, ideas or ideals, just as Greek gods were personifications 
of the great virtues. If one of them fell from grace, as several 
did during the wave of Hollywood scandals early in the 
twenties, it was not just a personal tragedy, it was a calling 
into question of an entire concept of behavior, a large chunk 
of the moral code by which the nation lived. 

This remained true as long as the screen was silent. A 
godhead is supposed to be inscrutable; it is not expected 
that he speak directly to us. It is enough that his image be 
present so that we may conveniently worship it. In those days 
it was expected that the stars would lead lives as different as 
possible from those of ordinary mortals. And, although they 
might be mobbed on occasion when they ventured out in 
public, and although they were expected to contribute their 
mite, whenever possible, to the rumor mills, they were also 
expected to keep their distance. The public wanted them to 
be different, and they were. The publicity of the age was 
different in quality from that which we have grown used to. 
Its very hokiness raised it, on occasion, to rare levels of 
amusement, and the public was seldom subjected to the drool 
about stars' family life, religious beliefs, theories of child 
rearing and the other homey, we're-just-like-you nonsense 
that is de rigueur today. Indeed, stars went to considerable 
lengths to conceal wives and children, fearing that these 
represented fan-shattering descents into the ordinary. 

The movie star was brought down to earth by the com- 
bined impact of social and technological change. Sound came 
to the movies only months before the depression came to 
America. The former revolutionized the industry, of course, 
just as the latter precipitated a radical revision of social 



13 



values. It now became necessary to prove that stars were just 
like everyone else, only more so. It is doubtful that Marion 
Davies painted over her 14-carat gold ceiling or that Gloria 
Swanson actually gave up dunking herself in the solid-gold 
bathtub that was the focal point of her black-marble bath- 
room, but the publicity departments turned the attention of 
the public away from such didoes, and directed it toward the 
more human side of the stars' lives. Public information on 
salaries, mansions, wardrobe, and so on, diminished, and a 
new kind of star came to the screen. The age of the American 
hero, tough, cynical, wise-cracking, frequently unchivalrous 
toward women, was upon us. Gone were the Latin lovers; 
gone, for the most part, were the vamps, the sloe-eyed 
sensualists who had tempted many a good American boy to 
his doom on the silent screen. Even the virginal staple under- 
went a transformation. She did not lose her virtue, but she 
did tend to be a good deal more knowledgeable about the 
world and its ways than the Gish sisters or Mary Pickford 
had been. More than one commentator has noted that when 
James Cagney pushed the grapefruit into Mae Clark's face in 
Public Enemy, screen love and, for that matter, screen man- 
ners changed forever. Certainly the moment is one of those 
bench marks in social history that cannot be ignored. 

The exuberant romanticism of the twenties was, at that 
moment, destroyed forever. And so, too, was the decent dis- 
tance between star and audience. Now that they were playing 
parts which, at least in the details of dress, manner and speech, 
were intended to resemble the lives of their audience, it was 
useless to keep up the old pretense that in their off-screen 
lives they were any different. It took a genuine leap of the. 
imagination to identify in the twenties with the screen 
character of Valentino or Barrymore or Garbo or Gilbert, 
so exotic were the settings in which they appeared, so im- 
probable the situations in which they found themselves, the 
dialogue the subtitles reported. It required no such leap to 
identify with Cagney or Gable or Spencer Tracy. Speech, 
very simply, meant that the movies had to be more realistic. 
This is in no way intended to imply that Hollywood's vision 
of reality was ever, by and large, a particularly truthful one. 
It is simply to say that, along the road to the inevitable happy 
ending, there came to be a greater emphasis on believability 
in everything, from the words actors spoke to the settings in 
which they appeared. More important, sound broke down the 
wall of silence which had previously separated star and audi- 
ence. Somehow we came to stand less in awe of them, to feel, 
heaven help us, that they were our friends. At this point 
teen-agers began writing stars for advice on everything from 
body odor to their love lives. 



What this meant to the star system is summed up simply 
in a quotation from a wise Frenchman named GustaveLeBon: 
"The gods and men who have kept their prestige for long 
have never tolerated discussion. For the crowd to admire, it 
must be kept at a distance." The sound film appreciably 
narrowed that distance as did the kind of publicity that came 
with it. The result was that the role of the stars in our lives 
would never again be totally analogous with that of the gods. 
Stars retained some godlike attributes, but the opportunities 
for a sybaritic existence safe behind the walls of their estates 
and the walls of the improbable legends which had been 
created for them were now over. From this point it was but 
a short distance to a picture in the fan magazines of a star 
playing chef at a neighborhood cookout. 

Sound also increased the number of stars. In silents it had 
been necessary merely to play one of the half dozen or so 
types around which nearly all movies were built. If you were 
a woman you were basically either a virgin or a vamp; if you 
were a male you were either a collar-ad type or a romantic 
in either the Valentino or Fairbanks tradition. There were, 
therefore, fairly rigid lines drawn between the film genres. 
Previously, there had been comedies, romances and adven- 
ture films, with an occasional contemporary melodrama 
thrown in. Now the lines between these categories began to 
blur and we had comedy-dramas and romantic adventures. 

In addition, there was a sharp upturn in the number of 
films that focused on contemporary life. In short, stars were 
called upon to represent not just types, but people in an in- 
finite variety. They had to speak, of course, where previously 
they had only to mime rather broadly some rather broad 
ideas. But there was more to their increased duties than that. 
They had to retain at least part of their old-time romantic 
appeal and yet, at the same time, be recognizable and be- 
lievable (realistic) human beings. In the thirties that odd 
blend of reality and fantasy which the movies continue to 
offer us was mixed for the first time. A new kind of cinematic 
speech was developed, as Stanley Kauffman noted, a "tight- 
packed wisecrackese which sounds like life, but really is the 
twentieth-century American theater's equivalent of blank 
verse. ... It is an American convention, an abstraction." 
As with the dialogue, so with the films; they looked a good 
bit like life, but they were not. Similarly the actors: they 
looked like real people, but of course, they were not; they 
remained movie stars. 

So the star stopped being a mere type, a sort of incarnated 
mythic figure, as he had been, and it became fashionable to 
say that, instead, the stars played themselves. "Generally 
speaking, they do not," says Rod Steiger. "They play the 



14 



image they have been successfully presenting over the years. 
It is not the person you find when you see them in private 
life. And in most cases, that is quite fortunate." 

Says Richard Widmark: "Movie audiences fasten on to 
one aspect of the actor; they hold on to a piece of the person- 
ality for dear life, and then they decide what they want -you 
to be. They think you're playing yourself. The truth is that 
the only person who can ever really play himself is a baby. 
... In each succeeding movie, you're virtually starting all 
over. The actor is tested again each time. If you're success- 
ful, you've been there, they've seen you, and they're meas- 
uring you against the time before." 

Which brings us to the point of defining the modern movie 
star. The successful movie star continues to have certain 
magical abilities that are, to be sure, godlike. Through 
strength, agility and wit, he triumphs in situations where the 
ordinary mortal would fail or be defeated. But it is essential 
that through his manner — and mannerisms — he appear to be, 
at least up to the moment of his greatest trial, a recognizable 
human being. When he swings into his climactic action it 
must require no great effort for us to suspend disbelief as 
we watch him triumph over incredible odds. The identifying 
mannerisms — Bogart's lisping snarl, Cagney's rapid-fire dic- 
tion, the sleepy roll of Brando's eye — all help us to identify 
with him in this moment, for all of us have such human 
attributes. 

It is obviously for this reason that the most durable stars 
have been people who are not perfectly beautiful in appear- 
ance. Pretty boys and girls disappear quickly from the screen. 
Mere beauty is the simplest thing for Hollywood to find, and 
the ingenues and juveniles have always been the most easily 
interchangeable parts in the production machinery. The 
problem, in the usual Hollywood career, is to use those fleet- 
ing years of grace to develop some rough edges that will 
catch in the minds of audiences, thereby allowing the actor to 
develop a mature career. "Your personality," says Widmark, 
"is what the movie medium draws out and uses." The im- 
plication is that there must be something there for the camera 
to draw upon. 

This means, of course, that it is irrelevant to apply the 
ordinary standards of acting to the movie performance. It 
is essential that the movie star appear to be, at least in the 
broad outlines of his performance, always the same. Person- 
ality always dominates the film and it is that which makes 
movies so soothing to jangled nerves — and, perhaps, prevents 
them from becoming high art. However hopeless things 
appear to be, we know this personality, and we know, too, 
that in crisis it will react in an all-too-familiar way, but a 



way unknown to those who, in the screenplay, are plaguing 
it. Suspense is generated as we wait for the inevitable, that 
predictable explosion of personality which will carry all 
before it; the difference between a good film and a bad one 
lies in the amount of ingenuity used to work out the details 
leading up to this explosion. 

There are, of course, dozens of other ways to make movies. 
It happens that this is the American way, the classic conven- 
tion of a dramatic form that is peculiarly our own. To prefer 
other conventions is the privilege of the onlooker. But that 
is a matter of taste, hardly the occasion for a sermonette on 
the inadequacies of the convention as it has grown up here. 
What this means for the actor, very simply, ?s that he is 
engaged in a highly stylized form of art. This stylization 
imposes severe limitations on his work. His role is as pre- 
determined, by the image he has created, more or less natu- 
rally out of the materials of his personality, as is the nature 
of man in Calvinist theology. He cannot escape this self which 
he has created on the screen. 

In the classic drama of Greece the course of the tragedy 
is predetermined by the interaction of the laws of the gods 
and the single, tragic flaw of the hero. On the American 
screen the course of the action is predetermined by the limita- 
tions of the personalities involved. There is no formal body 
of law (unless you count the rules of the M.P.P.A. moral 
code) which the personality transgresses at his peril, but the 
rules for his behavior are nevertheless rigidly defined by a 
kind of common law based on past performance. Penalties 
for violators occur not during the course of the action on 
screen but outside of it, in the court of public opinion. The 
form of punishment for major violations is brutally primi- 
tive; it is ostracism from the community. Thus does the audi- 
ence participate in a dim and ill-defined way in the dramatic 
lives of its screen heroes and heroines. 

Movies are probably the only theatrical form in the cul- 
tural history of man in which the work itself (the individual 
film) is not an entity in itself but is only an incident in a 
larger drama — the total career of its stars. The form of the 
work is conditioned by works which have preceded it, and 
the current film will determine the nature of the one which 
will follow it. 

Thus, the life of the screen star is a tangle of reality and 
fantasy. The roles he accepts will affect the nature of his 
private life, his reputation as a private individual will affect 
the nature of the roles he is offered. Some movie stars, if they 
are swashbucklers on the screen, may swashbuckle their way 
through life without fear of punishment. Errol Flynn, for in- 
stance, was a well-known ladies' man (sometimes under-age 



15 



ladies at that). If anything, his screen career was advanced 
by public knowledge of this fact. The two images, real and 
fancied, happily coincided. Charles Chaplin, whose screen 
career consisted of the masterful playing of a highly stylized 
image of the common man, was, on the other hand, ruined 
in the eyes of the public by his numerous divorces, his minor- 
ity political views and his involvement in a paternity suit. 
Reality could not be squared with the character the public 
desperately wanted him to be. Similarly, Ingrjd Bergman, 
who acted with impressive candor and directness about her 
affair with director Roberto Rossellini, was the object of vio- 
lent speeches on the floor of Congress and was ostracized for 
years by her public because she transgressed the rules estab- 
lished by her public personality, which projected a sort of 
rustic wholesomeness. At almost the same time, another 
screen star was publicly touring the continent in the company 
of an Eastern potentate-playboy. And although interest in 
their affair ran high, her transgression fitted neatly the sexy 
nature of her screen personality. There was no strong re- 
action to her affair. 

All this leads to a simple conclusion: Movie stars are not 
basically actors, although many of them demonstrate mimetic 
gifts of a high order. They are, simply, empty vessels who 
indicate to us the kind of fantasies with which they and their 
superiors in the production hierarchy want us to fill them. 
If we respond to these hints, they will succeed. The super- 
stars, the ones who seem to go on forever, are archetypes, 
answering the basic human needs for identification. Age 
cannot wither, custom cannot stale the pleasures they afford. 
Others are very much the products of special circumstances. 
They rise and fall in a brief span of time, answering a sudden 
socio-psychological need, then disappear almost as quickly 
as they appeared. In short, movie stars are objects of pure 
pleasure. And it is as such that they should be considered, 
not as actors or as artists. 

There are difficulties involved in being such an object in 
our society. We have never been a nation inclined to take 
pleasure for pleasure's sake. We tend to look for social useful- 
ness to justify our fun. Hence the insistence of stars that 
they are, indeed, actor-artists; hence, too, the contempt in 
which the star is often held by stage actors and by his fellow 
craftsmen in the industry, and the peculiarly ambivalent 
attitude of both critics and intelligent public toward the star. 
The simple folk simply love certain movie stars; and they go, 
a pleasurable tingle of anticipation buoying them on their 
journey, to see them as they expect to see them. If a role or 
an incident in the star's life disappoints them or alters their 
image of the actor, they merely find a new favorite. But 



few intellectuals have the honesty to admit, as the admir- 
able Robert Warshow did, "that I go to the movies for the 
same reason that the 'others' go: because I am attracted 
to Humphrey Bogart or Shelley Winters or Greta Garbo; 
because I require the absorbing immediacy of the screen; 
because in some way I take all that nonsense seriously." The 
average intelligent moviegoer is always trying to validate his 
attendance at the movies by some elaborate rationale. He 
and his fellows, in Paul Rosenberg's fine phrase, "have come 
not to bathe in the waters, but to register the degree of its 
pollution." 

The burden of this book, very simply, is that by merely 
existing, movie stars fulfill whatever function they have in 
this world. It takes no moral position on the question of 
whether their existence — or, for that matter, the existence of 
movies as an institution — is "good" or "useful" in our soci- 
ety. My purpose is descriptive; my method is one which com- 
bines factual reporting about the lives of various film stars 
along with an analysis of what I think the essences they have 
projected have meant to us at various times. It is my hope 
that amateur sociologists, social historians and social psy- 
chologists among my readers will find some food for thought 
about the larger forces in our cultural history in the little 
descriptive and analytical pieces which follow. At the very 
least I hope everyone will enjoy the pictures which take up 
more space than the words in this book. Movie stars are really 
meant to be looked at, not talked about. If you have the eyes 
to see, you should be able to perceive what a star is, or was, 
all about, merely by looking. 

In this connection I would like to offer a final analogy in 
the hope that it will get us off on the right foot. A movie star 
is not an artist, he is an art object. The performance one 
witnesses on the screen (and, for that matter, in his public 
life) is created by many hands — the star included. You can- 
not discuss this objectification of conscious and unconscious 
impulses as you would the work of a more conventional actor. 
The star's career is like a piece of sculpture — perhaps one 
of Alexander Calder's mobiles. If you like the piece of sculp- 
ture you will return to the museum on many occasions — on 
rainy afternoons, when you are feeling depressed or anxious 
or even elated — to seek a reestablishment, through it, of your 
connection with the world, your sense of continuity with it. 
It is the same with film stars. There are those democrats 
among us who can't see the use of either a piece of sculpture 
or a star. Neither is important since man could exist without 
them. Both are, however, realities of the general culture of 
our time. And both, in their ways, are creations in which we 
can see much and from which we can learn. 



16 




All passion spent. An anonymous fan, injured in the riotous rush on Frank Campbell's New York funeral home 
where Valentino lay in state, receives first aid. His death, in August, 1926 touched off an unparalleled 
frenzy in fandom. The hysterical behavior of his admirers has remained a symbol of all that is unhealthy in 
the relationship of star to public, though that relationship has been considerably modified over the years. 



17 



THE 



PART ONE 



PROTOTYPES 



The history of American movies from 1907, when they 
took their first great leap toward economic power, to 1914, 
when the star system attained its first great flowering, cannot 
be told in terms of personalities — at least not in terms of star 
personalities. As we have already noted, there was no such 
thing until 1910, although a handful of people, like come- 
dian John Bunny and an ersatz cowboy named Bronco Billy 
Anderson, were beginning, with no cooperation at all from 
.the studios, to create an audience for their screen person- 
alities. No, the real interest of these early, almost prehistoric, 
days lay in the realm of economics. 

Thomas Edison had shown his first movie in 1896, and 
the history of American films is usually dated from that year, 
although the Lumieres in France and the Lathams here both 
have excellent prior claim to the invention of movies, and 
several almost forgotten inventors have claims as good as 
Edison's. Indeed, it was not Edison at all, but one of his 
assistants, William Kennedy Dickson, who did most of the 
work on the new gadget. Be that as it may, Edison was in 
almost complete control of the business in its early stages. 
Whatever the other merits of his intelligence, Edison was 
not culturally very astute. He kept his camera crews crank- 
ing away, making stereopticon slides that moved, and very 
little else. At best, these efforts reached the level of crude 
newsreels, and when the novelty of "moving" pictures had 
worn off, the movies were in danger of death through in- 
tellectual malnutrition. 

Two artists came to their rescue. The first was George 
Melies, a magician who saw in movies the potential for the 



greatest trick of all. In the space of a few years at the turn 
of the century he devised most of the camera and editing 
tricks that still delight the eye today. Even more important, 
he took to arranging scenes in a simple sequence telling a 
simple story. He had a wonderful gift for fantasy and bis 
early films are still delightful to see — and genuinely funny. 
An Edison cameraman, Edwin S. Porter, chanced on some 
of them and, because he had what others lacked — an eye to 
see — irecognized the tremendous advance Melies had made. 
Being an American, he was more interested in reality than 
fancy. So, when with Edison's blessing he set out to imitate 
Melies, he turned his attention to the everyday world around 
him. The first American story film, The Life of an American 
Fireman, was assembled mainly from film clips, and it told 
very, very simply the story of a woman and child imperiled 
by flames and of their rescue by firemen. Technically, its 
great advance lay in the fact that Porter broke each separate 
scene down into individual shots. He even essayed a close- 
up — of an alarm box ringing. Very little attention was paid 
to the film, movies at this point having been relegated to the 
bottom of the bill at the less fashionable vaudeville houses. 
Porter was apparently undismayed: he went ahead with his 
second feature, and it made history. The Great Train Rob- 
bery was a Western, shot in New Jersey in 1903: the simple 
tale it told of frontier robbery and retribution, complete with 
a perfectly admirable chase, lifted movies out of the vaude- 
ville houses and created a demand for more story films. 
Shortly thereafter, small capitalists began to rent little stores 
in poor neighborhoods and install folding chairs, projectors 



19 



»f!» 










and screens. The nickelodeon had arrived. Nearly all of them 
programed The Great Train Robbery first, then demanded 
more of the same. Other capitalists, only slightly larger, went 
into the business of satisfying them and, nickel hy nickel, 
the business began to grow. 

This was not totally pleasing to Mr. Edison. He had 
patents, and it seemed to him that these granted the exclu- 
sive right to make movies as well as to sell the equipment to 
shoot and project them. Suddenly hundreds of people were 
infringing on his rights, and profitably, too. By 1907 there 
were film rental exchanges in thirty-five key cities in America, 
and there were about eight thousand nickelodeons. The for- 
mer brought a measure of stability to both the production 
and distribution ends of the business, while the latter were 
creating a steady, mass market for movies among the poorer 
classes. In 1907 Edison, despairing of winning all the suits 
he had launched for patent infringement, created the famous 
movie trust, which was designed to get the exhibitor coming 
and going. He had to pay a pegged rental fee for his films, 
which he had to show on equipment leased from the trust. 
The exhibitors, for the most part, responded very poorly to 
this attempt at coercion, and those producers not included in 
the trust went blithely ahead, making pictures, although 
many of them transferred operations to a sleepy suburb of 
Los Angeles known as Hollywood. This was sufficiently far 
from New York to make it difficult for the trust to trouble 
them, and sufficiently close to the Mexican border so that 
escape would be easy in the unlikely event that it became 
necessary. Also, the climate was good and you could shoot 
outdoors almost all year round. By 1914, even before the 
courts struck it down, the effect of the trust on the movie 
business had been almost completely mitigated. 

Aesthetically speaking, the only thing the trust contributed 
to movie history was a place for D. W. Griffith to learn his 
craft. He came to Biograph — one of the trust studios — in 
1909. part-time "serious" writer, part-time actor, and full- 
time Southern gentleman of the old school. He made hun- 



dreds of one-reelers for Biograph, experimenting with cam- 
era, shots, lighting, editing, creating the basic style of the 
movie as we now know it. By the time he left Biograph, 
irritated by the limits it placed on his talents, he was ready 
to complete the transformation of the movie business. He 
gathered the remnants of his stock company, the actors who 
had as yet to receive billing and large salaries from Biograph, 
along with such key technicians as cameraman Billy Bitzer 
and in 1914 made The Birth of a Nation, a film weak in 
philosophy, but strong in cinematic technique. His reputa- 
tion, high before the arrival of the first feature-length films 
from abroad diminished it, now soared to new heights. 
The American companies had fought the introduction of fea- 
tures, but Griffith's smashing success now swept the industry 
into the production of long films — something for which 
Griffith had been fighting for years. 

Films now became a major investment, and the days when 
a profitable one-reeler could be turned out in less than a 
week, on a budget of a couple of hundred dollars, were 
finished. Even the last holdouts, like Biograph, saw that the 
best insurance for these large investments were stars. Un- 
fortunately for the holdouts, men like Carl Laemmle, William 
Fox and Adolph Zukor had sensed this much earlier and 
the older studios, which had become household names in the 
first ten years of the industry, found that their most potent 
players had been lured away. Most of them withered, and the 
new empires, from which all the current Hollywood studios 
are direct descendants, took their place. They were empires 
based on stars. 

The first stars were, for the most part, players who went 
right on doing what they had been doing in their days of 
anonymity, only now with raised salaries and egos. Their 
vehicles were no longer as improvisational as the one-reelers 
had been, more attention was paid to accuracy and appro- 
priateness of costume and scenery, and the scope of action 
and variety of locale were enormously increased. Only the 
basic character types of the people about whom the stories 



20 




That, "severe yet impassioned figure," William S. Hart. 

indulges playful "Little Mary" on United Artists lot. 

which she helped establish and where he fought for survival. 



revolved remained constant There were villains and they 
were rarely stars (until, during World War I, Erich Von 
Stroheim emerged as "the man you love to hate" ) . There 
were heroes mainly of the jut-jawed, clean-limbed variety, 
(like J. Warren Kerrigan, Francis X. Bushman, Harold 
Lockwood, Carlyle Blackwood). There were, it seemed, 
dozens of youthfully beautiful heroines, whose principal 
characteristics were often epitomized by their screen names 
(like Arline Pretty, Louise Lovely). Each of them was, as 
one critic said of Lillian Gish, "a permanent lyric of jumpi- 
ness." 

The early moguls — notably Zukor — were under the im- 
pression that one star was as good as the next, so long as 
the name had been properly sold; and many a Broadway 
name trekked west, seeking an easy fortune in movies. 
A few of them, like the Farnum brothers, did well. Most of 
them, however, proved rather too mature in appearance and 
manner for the tastes of their new audience, which tended 
to take a somewhat simplified view of things. Thespian repu- 
tations built on a talent for the then fashionable declamatory 
style of the stage meant little to it; beauty, the ability to 
communicate a sort of average attractiveness did. If the hero 
seemed to be a swell guy, the heroine a sweet child, they 
were taken to the collective bosom. The intimacy of the 
movie medium, the relative cultural naivete of the audience 
defeated older, perhaps more serious, talents, and the first 
group of movie stars was drawn from the younger players. 

Those who were merely pretty or handsome faded fairly 
quickly, their comeliness to be replaced by another group 
who would, in turn, be replaced by yet another youth move- 
ment when the first wrinkles appeared. Such temporary stars 
are an ongoing movie phenomenon which need not detain us 
long. Their only real interest is as a mirror of a decade's fads 
and fashions. But in that first group of stars, as is true in 
each generation of beautiful people, there were a few who 
were more than merely pretty. For them, physical attractive- 
ness was merely the key which enabled them to unlock some 



basic response in the vast majority of their audience. So basic 
was this appeal, so much of us — or, at least, of our longings — 
did they express, that they became the prototypes for most 
future stars. 

In this chapter we consider two such people: Douglas 
Fairbanks, the perfect American hero; and Mary Pickfonl. 
a common-denominator sort of girl, the ideal wife, daughter, 
sister of a generation. Allowing for superficial variation- 
based on changed tastes in style, dress and manner. Doug 
and Mary are still very much with us on the screen today. 
The same may be said of William S. Hart and Theda Bara. 
although their own careers were comparatively brief. Miss 
Bara was the movie industry's first try at a foreign temptress. 
They tried too hard, and poor Theda was laughed off the 
screen. But the foreign woman, more sensual, more worldly- 
wise than the typical American heroine, abides — exotic, 
temperamental, dangerous, but infinitely attractive. \^ illiam 
S. Hart's demise may be blamed on his times. Temporarily, 
the romanticism of the 1920's, its insistent debunking of the 
old, rural values, forced him from the screen. But The \^ est- 
erner, a sort of last Adam ranging a lost Eden, is too impor- 
tant a figure in American mythology to disappear completely. 
He returned, impersonated by others, in scripts that explored 
the type more deeply than did those of Hart, during our 
search for values in the 1930's. His type is still with us today, 
a more and more poignant reminder of what we lost when 
we uprooted ourselves from the land and decided to live lives 
of noisy desperation in a world growing more hectic every 
day. As for the Keystone Kops, they were the first great 
comedy stars, an ensemble of unparalleled virtuosity, creat- 
ing nearly all that was great in screen comedy. 

These, then, are our prototype screen personalities. A 
little of them survives in nearly every film made today, just 
as a little bit of Griffith's work survives in everything we see 
on the screen. They did not know it then, but they were 
creating, these early stars, the almost unchanging person- 
ality profile of the American film. 



21 




fc% * * 










MR. SENNETT 

TTie /Co^5 a?i<i clowns, 
the ups and downs 



"YOU KNOW," SAID THE LATE SNUB POLLARD, one of the 

original Keystone Kops, "I guess I've been bathed in no less 
than ten tons of very wet cement. I figured up once I'd 
caught about fourteen thousand pies in my puss and had 
been hit by six hundred automobiles and two trains. Once 
I was even kicked by a giraffe." 

These hardships occurred in the pursuit of a most peculiar 
art, an art which flourished only briefly, then disappeared, 
done in by technology, pseudo-sophistication and, perhaps, 
a decline in the creative energy of the group which forged 
the unique, the incomparable style of silent screen comedy 
in the manic atelier of Mack Sennett. 

The Keystone Kops in particular, Sennett's entire group 
in general, achieved stardom en masse. From time to time 
a particularly strong personality — a Chaplin, a Harry Lang- 
don, a Keaton — would emerge from the gang and strike off 
on his own, having developed his trade in this school of hard 
knocks. But by and large the Kops and their quarries stand 
as anomalies in the history of stardom. A good many strange 
people have achieved stardom, but no group of this size — 
and nature — made it, either before or since. This is in char- 
acter, for the Keystone group always stood a little outside 
the main stream of film history. There was really only one 
thing they could do — make Keystone comedies — and very 
few of them survived the coming of sound. Even at the height 
of their powers the kind of film they were making had about 
the same relationship to the rest of movie making as the 
work of S. J. Perelman has to the art of the novel. The same 
basic tools (camera and film, pen and paper I are used, but 
after that the similarity ends. 

The Kops were the sole creation of Mack Sennett. an in- 
different actor who worked for Griffith at Biograph. gradu- 
ated to scenario writing, then to the supervision of rube 
comedies. He paid generous tribute to Griffith as the man 
who "was my day school, my adult education program, 
my university," and indeed, his emphasis on movement in 
the comedies is certainly related to the theories of Griffith, 
as is his editing technique. But the source of Sennett's work 

23 



\ 









«v) 






Ben Turpin suggests to some of his colleagues that they step to the rear of the car. 



24 



lies inexplicably deeper. It seems that all his life he regarded 
the policeman as one of God's more absurd creations. Prob- 
ably it was the silly majesty the law attempts to maintain 
in the pursuit of minor offenders, its pitiful attempts at 
dignity in the face of man's obvious irrationality, which 
attracted Sennett to his great theme. In any case, he tapped 
a basic American feeling about policemen and allowed the 
nation to vent its dislike of regulations in gales of laughter. 
Law is such a sad thing, trying as it does to capture the basic 
absurdity of human behavior and pen it behind walls of 
rationally conceived rules. Our instinctive knowledge of the 
hopelessness of the task is what triggers our laughter at a 
Sennett comedy. 

In this we are aided by the Kops themselves. We think of 
Sisyphus, toiling to push his rock up the hill, fully aware 
that, at the moment of triumph, the gods will send it tum- 
bling back to the ground below. The Kops seemed to sense 
the futility of their activities, but the game itself was the 
fun, and their hopelessly befuddled chase after the miscre- 
ant, typically in a decrepit flivver from which their blue-clad 
arms and legs protruded in wild tangles, their faces mean- 
while maintaining a stolid dignity that defied us to comment 
upon the mess they were making, was something into which 
you could read a dozen meanings. Certainly, it is not too 
pretentious to say that the Kops, who in Agee's phrase, 
"zipped and caromed about the pristine world of the screen 
as jazzily as a convention of water bugs," made a valid 
comment on all who pursue goals with too much zeal and 
not enough thought about ultimate values. 

Beyond all this, there was the beautifully simple cinematic 
style in which these splendid fellows went through their 
paces. Sennett believed speed and grotesquery were the basis 
of comedy. Few Sennett gags took more than ten seconds of 



screen time from initial statement, through elaboration, to 
culmination. Ideally the next gag was built off the first and 
sight gag followed sight gag in dizzying succession. Even 
when he was supervising the entire product of his busy 
studio and directing very little, he reviewed every scene shot, 
the creakings of his projection-room rocker an index to his 
responses. He always called for more speed. As to his liking 
for the grotesque, one need only look at the faces and figures 
of the actors he employed. They were parodies of the human 
form, and that made their parodies of poor man's attempts 
to cope with the essentially unmanageable modern world 
even more delicious. The backgrounds against which they 
moved, the wasteland of southern California when it was a 
subdivider's paradise, with only the skeleton of the megalop- 
olis to come sketched in, enhanced the mood of dreamlike 
realism in Sennett's films. Finally, the girls, really quite 
lovely, and the first direct screen statement of the pleasures 
inherent in the female form were a perfect touch. The bath- 
ing beauties represented a healthy kidding of our sexual 
preoccupations. They were neither simpering nor blatant in 
manner. They simply existed, delightful, not quite bright, 
ideal foils for the cavorting grotesques around them. 

The Sennett star faded quickly after the coming of sound. 
His most talented mimes had already left him, and then 
tastes changed, and the ve - bal gag replaced the visual one 
in films. Sennett ended his days broke and — like so many 
movie pioneers — almost forgotten by the industry he helped 
create. Most of the artists who followed his traditions and 
work, were also ruined by sound. It is only now — too late — 
that we see in the artless art of Mack Sennett more real 
worth than in all but a handful of the more grandiose pro- 
ductions of his contemporaries. He is one of the few who 
made genuine folk art while working in the mass media. 











The bathing beauties seem to be under 

the impression they work for Isadora Duncan 

instead of Mack Sennett ( above) . 




-jx 



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. 




WILLIAM S. HART 

The first American hero 



". . . THERE was William S. Hart with both guns blazing 
and his long, horse face and his long, hard lip, and the great 
country rode away behind him as wide as the world." So the 
first great Man of the West appeared to a small boy named 
James Agee, opening for him and his generation a vision of 
spaciousness and freedom that had once been an integral 
part of the American dream, but which was now, in a rapidly 
urbanizing nation, disappearing. 

As the land was changing, so were the people, and if the 
West seemed like a lost Eden, Hart seemed to be the last 
Adam. Neither God nor man dictated to him. He appeared 
to have arrived on the side of goodness through reason and 
free choice. Characteristically, he appeared out of nowhere, 
giving no hint about either background or motivation, sug- 
gesting only that in his past lay an unnamed evil which he 
had to expiate. 

The fact that he portrayed a good guy was more important 
to the moralistic Hart than it was to his audience. His recti- 
tude provided an acceptable sanction for his real business, 
which was to "defend the purity of his own image — in fact 
his honor." It was this defense of the self, in a world which 
increasingly forces the individual to compromise with his 
idealized self-image, that was the root of Hart's popularity, 
and, for that matter, the popularity of all his successors in 
the role of the great American archetype. 

In addition, Hart demonstrated ways and means by which 
the individual could defend his self-image against intrusion. 
They were manly ways, having nothing to do with keeping 
your nose clean and waiting for the boss to notice you. "The 
essence of the hero," Parker Tyler notes, "may be defined 
as a super sort of professionalism. All men desiring greatness 

Face of a Hero : the difference between 

pleasure and disgust was no 

more than the twitch of a tiny muscle. 




Hart established the convention that the Western 
hero loved his horse more than his heroine. He 
was capable of sensuality, but not of real love. 



27 





The defense of innocence : After the rescue, 
"he made a bashful face at a girl and his horse 
raised its upper lip and everybody laughed." 



Hart on location : "/ was content. I was surrounded 

by no greedy grafters, no . . . slimy creatures — just dogs, 

horses, sheep, goats, bulls, mules, burros and . . . men. 



in the public eye . . . undergo a difficult discipline and the 
acquisition of an elaborate system of knowledge." Hart's 
Westerner had done so; he rode and shot with preternatural 
skill, had available to him the most obscure bits of outdoor 
know-how, insuring his triumph in difficult situations. He 
was, in short, that most admired American phenomenon, the 
Old Pro, so sure in his hard-won skills that his mere presence 
was a comfort. 

Hart himself seems to have been unaware of the depths he 
had touched in the nation's unconscious. A rather average 
stage actor who had spent most of his boyhood in the West, 
he had been appalled by the lack of realism in the early 
Westerns, had begged his friend the producer Thomas Ince 
for a chance to do honest films about the West. Ince, think- 
ing that the genre's popularity was finished, had only grudg- 
ingly given Hart his chance. His first, a stark little item 
called The Bargain, was a surprise hit, and Ince had to bring 
Hart back to Hollywood from New York, whither he had 
retreated, convinced that there would be no more Westerns 
suitable for him. Ince, who had merged with Griffith and 
Sennett to form Triangle, exploited Hart shamelessly, keep- 



28 



ing his salary low while his popularity leaped upward. When- 
ever Hart complained, the producer played on the actor's 
strong and simple sense of loyalty to keep him in line, pre- 
venting him from capitalizing on his popularity until it had 
passed its peak. 

Triangle was finally absorbed by Paramount, and Hart 
received an excellent contract, but he was soon dropped, and 
that studio, then in control of the strongest theater chain in 
the nation, kept his subsequent independent productions out 
of the best houses. Commercially, they were probably right. 
Hart's attention was too firmly fixed on such surface matters 
as realism of setting and simplicity of moral. In the twenties, 
when the traditional morality of rural America, on which 
Hart had based his work, was in retreat from the disorderly 
assaults of the younger generation, and when the mass audi- 
ence was more interested in romance than in reality, he was 
woefully out of step. He turned down The Covered Wagon, 
a great comeback opportunity, because it lacked realism, 
and retired to his ranch. He refused to allow development 
of its oil resources, not wanting his view to be spoiled by 
derricks. 

"These hills were mine, and had been mine since my birth." 

— William S. Hart 






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THEDA BARA 




77ie c?arA; /ac?y o/ </ie publicity stills. 



A vamp there was 



This was the legend they concocted for Theda Bara: She 
was born in the Sahara, love child of a French artist and his 
Arab paramour. Her name was an anagram for "Arab 
Death." She had a seer's power, habitually wore indigo to 
accentuate the deathly pallor of her skin, surrounded herself 
with the symbols of death — mummy cases, ravens, skulls. To 
love her was to die or, at the very least, to be unmanned. 

Theodosia Goodman, the "circumspect and demure" 
daughter of a Cincinnati tailor did her best to live the legend 
and, for a time, she appalled the genteel, outraged the moral, 
amused the cynical and, in general, packed 'em in. It was her 
refreshing exoticism, in the midst of so many golden-haired 
virgins, that attracted. It was her publicity that ruined her. 
The wish for death and the will to love may indeed spring 
from the same libidinal source, but it is unwise to insist on 
the point; it makes people very nervous indeed. Audiences 
began to titter uncomfortably, then to laugh uproariously 
and with a great sense of relief. Miss Bara's career was over. 
What she established, however, the lure of the exotic, the 
absolutely un-American woman, had a peculiar immortality. 



A Fool There Was, the film that launched Theda Bara in 1914. 



31 



The virgin dynamo 




Small animals were a customary Pickford prop, as 

they are for a latter-day child-woman named Brigitte Bardot. 

MARY PICKFORD 



"Although theaters, studios and exchanges in 1917-18 
represented investments of several millions of dollars and 
gave employment to a hundred thousand people, Mary Pick- 
ford remained the industry's most valuable asset. Woman's 
place in business has grown enormously in importance in the 
last three decades, but Mary Pickford is the only member of 
her sex who ever became the focal point of an entire indus- 
try. Her position was unique; probably no man or woman 
will ever again win so extensive a following." So wrote 
Benjamin Hampton in his History of the Movies, and he did 
not exaggerate. Little Mary's mere presence in the industry 
was a strong defense against reformers, who had raised a hue 
and cry against movies almost as soon as they were born. 
When the charge that movies corrupted youth was raised, 
the industry merely pointed to Miss Pickford, and reminded 
critics of the lesson which her standard plot (and her 
career) taught. 

She was a virgin in almost constant peril. Yet she was both 
plucky and optimistic, even surprisingly resourceful in de- 
feating the heavily armed enemies who surrounded her. 
As Bill Hart asserted man's right to freedom, so Mary 




32 



A big moment from Little Lord Fauntleroy. At the 
time Miss Pickford was 29 years old. 









12 



S 




Little Mary working under the direction of D. W. 
Griffith. The picture is The New York Hat (1912). 



Pickford asserted woman's right to remain inviolate. Like 
Hart, she was satisfyingly victorious in defense of both the 
immediate symbol and that larger abstraction, personal in- 
tegrity. Later critics have suggested that her appeal was not 
altogether based on purity, that there were subtle suggestions 
of the nymphet about her — but the evidence is slim and, 
even at this late date, somehow shocking. 

Little Mary was born Gladys Smith in Toronto. Both the 
tenacity and the shrewdness which were part of her screen 
character were undoubtedly borrowed from life. Her mother 
was her first — and most passionate — admirer, as well as the 
guiding genius behind her career. Gladys played her first 
role in a Toronto stock company at five; at twelve she was 
playing leads; in her teens she was touring; when she was 
seventeen she got her first Broadway part from David Be- 
lasco, who also gave her the name under which she would be- 
come America's Sweetheart. When the play closed in May 
1910, she turned up at the Biograph studio looking for work. 

David Wark Griffith took just one day to get her before a 
camera — in The Violin Maker of Cremona. She was his type, 
a romantic's golden vision of the innocence of youth. She 
started at twenty-five dollars a working day, rose to a guaran- 
teed hundred dollars a week, was lured to Carl Laemmle's 
IMP concern for a slight raise and more artistic freedom than 
she had under the iron ego of Griffith. She went back to the 
stage in 1913, in Belasco's The Good Little Devil, and never 
returned to living theater again. The part qualified her for a 
contract with Audolph Zukor's Famous Players, which prom- 



34 






ised the players presentation "in famous plays." That policy 
didn't work out; but Mary Pickford did. Within a few years 
Zukor was paying her $500,000 a year, and she was worth it. 
In those days of block booking you could force an exhibitor 
to swallow a lot of indifferent pills by dangling before him 
the prospect of playing the new Pickford. In due course she 
left Paramount (Famous Players under another name) to 
form her own company, then went on with her new husband, 
Douglas Fairbanks, to form United Artists. 

He had a natural gift for production, she had learned 
well the financial lessons her mother had taught her — and 
the tenacity. "She never stopped listening and learning," 
Griffith said. "She was determined to learn everything she 
could about the business." She learned so well that, without 
ever raising her voice, she acquired a fortune her old mentor, 
Griffith, who never did understand money, must have envied 
in his pitiful last years. "It often took longer to make one J 
of Mary's contracts than it did to make one of Mary's pic- 
tures," Samuel Goldwyn once observed. 

Ambitious, clever, never anything but the gracious, mod- 
est "glad girl" of her publicity, she was forever the woman 
every mother wanted for a daughter, every man for a sister. 
And a sore trial for free spirits and sophisticates. Mabel Nor- 
mand, whose career was ruined by scandal, summed up their 
point of view one time when an interviewer asked her what 
her hobby was. "Say anything you like," she 'replied, "but 
don't say I like to work. That sounds too much like Mary 
Pickford, that prissy bitch." 

The Taming of the Shrew (1929) was Doug and Mary's first 

sound film and carried an immortal credit line: 

"By William Shakespeare. Additional Dialogue by Samuel Taylor.' 






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The Three Musketeers (1921). The Americano has become the high-born savior of the people. 



It takes an urban culture to produce a Douglas Fair- 
banks and, in truth, he was our first urbane movie hero. The 
"difficult discipline" he underwent and the "elaborate system 
of knowledge" he acquired to lay claim to our admiring 
attention, were utterly different from those of The Westerner. 
Fairbanks' skills were acquired not through communion with 
nature, but in the artificial atmosphere of the gymnasium. 
Similarly, his manner. Not for him the granitic countenance, 
the leisurely pace, the slowness of emotion which belong to 
the man attuned to nature's rhythm. Instead, he was quick, 
breezy, cheerfully optimistic, shallowly bright — a city man, 
a man whose business was business. He was, both on and off 
screen, an indoors man at a time when America was be- 
coming an indoors nation. On the screen he proved to his 
audience that there need be nothing unmanly about its new 
way of life, that, whatever its critics might say, decent values 
could continue to exist, even flourish, in the new environ- 
ment. Indeed, he implied that they could be adorned with 
a new grace and wit and style. 

"At a difficult time in American history," Alistair Cooke 
writes, "Douglas Fairbanks appeared to know all the an- 
swers and knew them without pretending to be anything 
more than 'an all around chap, just a regular American.' " 
How comforting this was to a nation standing on the brink 
of a war in which it was clear that for the first time the 

36 



courage of the new America would be tested in the ancient 
manner — trial by combat. 

We tend to remember Fairbanks in terms of the romantic 
costume epics he produced for himself in the twenties. In 
war's aftermath Fairbanks, the canny showman, was among 
the first to sense the shift in taste from the everyday settings 
and situations of the flickers' early days toward highly 
romanticized material. Taking advantage of this, he leaped 
with his customary easy grace backward in time to distant 
places, but however he costumed himself he remained very 
much the same "Doug" he had always been. This personality 
was created in a single year, 1916, when he made eleven 
films — more than a quarter of his total output — on the Tri- 
angle lot. There Fairbanks, an irrepressible prankster, and 
an equally irrepressible gymnast, was encouraged to set his 
own pace, work out his own athletic improvisations on basi- 
cally simple scripts. If, as some have suggested, the basic 
concern of Americans is not with end product but with 
process, then it was at the moment of these improvisations 
that Fairbanks achieved real greatness in our eyes. It was not 
important where or why Doug was going; what was impor- 
tant was how he went. Man is great, said Emerson, "not in 
his goals but in his transitions." Fairbanks, even in his late, 
mannered work, was the greatest maker of transitions in 
screen history. 




DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS 

The new American 




Fairbanks, the new American hero, leads the cheers at a Liberty Loan rally in Wall Street, 1918. 




The Thief of Bagdad (1924). More swagger, less naturalness now, but still recognizably Doug. 



THE 



PART TWO 



TWENTIES 



Somehow, the movies became socially acceptable be- 
tween 1910 and 1920. Maybe the industry's wholehearted 
support of the war effort, in which it became the govern- 
ment's chief domestic propaganda arm, turned the tide in 
its favor. Maybe a new emphasis on creature comforts in 
theaters brought the middle classes in. Maybe it was the 
prestige which films of feature length seemed to create auto- 
matically. Or maybe it was simply that the lure of the me- 
dium could no longer be denied, no matter how hard you 
tried to maintain your respectability. Certainly, the clear 
appeal of stars like Hart, Pickford, Fairbanks and Chaplin 
helped mightily to erase lingering doubts about the moral 
correctness of "wasting time" at the movies. At any rate, 
the movies' battle for general acceptance by a larger group 
than the nickelodeon set was won. 

But the life of commerce is never an easy one, and as 
soon as this plateau was reached, new demands were made 
upon the medium. The principal effect of World War I on 
the American mind was the creation of a revulsion against 
reality. We had entered the war with such high hopes — 
the world was to be saved for democracy, we were at last 
to assert the greatness of our democratic ideals on a cynical 
and materialistic world. Somewhere in France all the fine 
phrases turned to mud and those of our youth who returned 
from the ordeal found, in Scott Fitzgerald's perfect phrase, 
"all gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man shaken." 
It is probably not too much to say that these young men 
loathed the world and loathed themselves for having been 
duped by it. They wanted very much to forget all the things 



most people regarded as important. 

By default, the political affairs of the nation were placed 
in the hands of the most banal hacks in the history of the 
Republic. More serious minds turned to art as an escape 
from day-to-day reality, and never in America has there 
been such a creative ferment as occurred in the years be- 
tween 1919 and 1929. But most people — including the 
older generation, who quickly caught the youngsters' mood 
— just decided to make money (which was easy) and to 
have fun (which was harder). 

Since movies were certainly not an art form at the time 
and since they were clearly designed to entertain, rather 
than to enlighten, they followed the dictates of the great 
audience. They provided the nation with more escapes than 
Harry Houdini. "The Old Gang," that steadfast group of 
rustic moralists, fighting desperately to preserve what they 
conceived to be the American Way of Life, but what was 
in reality merely an irrelevant set of manners, quickly 
zeroed in on the movies as a prime cause of all the moral 
ills then afflicting the nation. When a number of Hollywood 
stars were caught in a series of scandals, the industry, which 
had previously ignored the cries from the hinterlands, hastily 
created the Hays office to police the content of films and. 
more importantly, the morals of the stars. It performed 
lackadaisically until 1933, when another wave of outrage 
forced the creation of The Code (all rise), a set of rules 
explicitly setting forth the things from which the camera must 
avert its eyes. During the twenties, the Hays office had been 
a sop to the outraged, a public-relations device, rather than 



39 



a truly effective police agency. 

There was nothing very serious to police in any case. 
Joseph Wood Krutch declared that "the inanities blessed 
by Mr. Hays are more genuinely corrupting than any por- 
nography," and it is certainly true that the movies of the 
Jazz Age were more inane than they were dirty. The indus- 
try summed up its aims with great clarity in the course of 
its campaign urging Americans to "Go to a motion picture 
. . . and let yourself go." "Before you know it you are living 
the story — laughing, loving, hating, struggling, winning! 
All the adventure, all the romance, all the excitement you 
lack in your daily life are in — Pictures. They take you com- 
pletely out of yourself into a wonderful new world . . . Out 
of the cage of everyday existence! If only for an afternoon 
or evening — escape!" 

There is little point in analyzing the content of movies 
during the Dizzy Decade. The average film was merely a 
blend of ingredients designed to melt in your mind, a sort 
of primitive tranquilizer. There were all kinds of films at- 
tempting this task. There were sex comedies, revolving 
around infidelity and its wages, which Cecil B. DeMille 
turned out, usually featuring an obligatory bathtub sequence. 
There were the flapper films, dealing with the way youth 
was carrying on. There were the Graustarkian romances, 
all about the loves of royalty for commoners. There were, 
as objections to these forms mounted, Biblical epics which 
wrapped the cloak of Christian message around that most 
ancient of commodities, sex. There was, in time, an invasion 
of German and German-influenced craftsmen who came a 
curious cropper when they attempted to turn out the stand- 
ard Hollywood product using expressionistic techniques, 
then all the rage on the Continent. Finally, there were the 
costume dramas and period pieces, pioneered by Fairbanks, 
and brought to their finest, most absurd flowering by Rudolph 
Valentino. 

The high priestess of the new exoticism was Elinor Glyn, 
discoverer of "It" (meaning sex appeal and applied chiefly 
to a charming little flapper named Clara Bow), author of 
Three Weeks (first of the Graustarkian tales) and chief 
industry spokesman for romance. "I wanted to stir up in the 
cold hearts of the thousands of little, fluffy, gold-digging 
American girls a desire for greater joys in life than are to 
be found in candy boxes and car rides and fur coats," she 
declared, "a desire to be loved as European women are 
loved; and, as a result, a desire to give as well as to receive." 

America was, at the time, in full-scale revolt against the 
old sexual standards and, as Malcolm Cowley noted, was 
declaiming against "American grossness and American 



puritanism in one breath and as if they were one and the 
same thing." The movies, with their emphasis on the pleas- 
ures of love in other climates, certainly made a strong state- 
ment against puritanism. The trouble was that the message 
was heavily tainted with grossness. 

As for the stars themselves, their off-screen lives were 
expected to bear further witness against the drabness of 
ordinary American life. No less than three reigning female 
stars married minor European titles. Another toured Europe 
accompanied by a menagerie including a Russian wolf- 
hound, a German dachshund, an English pointer, an Irish 
setter, and a St. Bernard. A minor comic who died broke 
had every door in his home equipped with solid-gold door- 
knobs. A leading man zipped around town in a low-slung, 
robin's-egg-blue car the horn of which played "Yankee 
Doodle Dandy." Valentino's home, Falcon's Lair, had a 
canary-and-black bedroom and a living room with black- 
marble floor and cerise hangings. The radiator cap of his 
car sported a carefully worked cobra design. 

It was all shocking and delicious — the parties, the love 
affairs, the occasional trouble in paradise. For, truly, the 
stars of the twenties were gods and everyone — everyone, 
that is, but the Old Gang — would have been terribly disap- 
pointed had they lived like ordinary mortals. Indeed, today 
certain theorists of the cinema, alarmed at the dreariness 
which has afflicted post-television Hollywood, have been 
urging a return to the bad old days. The notion is that 
people cannot get very excited about personalities who are 
publicized as just ordinary guys and gals. What are needed 
are stars who keep their distance, who emerge in public 
not to prove that they are just like everyone else but who 
demonstrate that they are utterly, and contempuously, dif- 
ferent from you and me. Sound films, thirty years of leveling 
publicity and the new American social consensus formed in 
the 1930's prohibit that. And anyway, we have built new 
identifications with the stars. But there was a beautiful 
simplicity about our relationship to them in the twenties, 
not to mention a refreshing lack of subtleties for the social 
historian to comprehend. 

Indeed, as one looks back upon the life of Hollywood in 
the twenties, from a distance of almost forty years, in a 
time when our moral outrage has shifted from the sybaritic 
stars to Madison Avenue, the television industry and the 
Hidden Persuaders, one is struck by the almost childlike 
innocence which underlay the old Hollywood public moral- 
ity. There was a naivete in its pretensions, a glorious 
unconcern about a future that would never arrive, which is 
quite touching. At least on the surface. What was going on 






40 




The lady and the lion. Greta Garbo, symbol of 
stardom, poses for a nervous publicity shot with Metro- 
Goldwyn-Mayer s perfect symbol of the industry's 
arrogance, pretension and, perhaps, lack of humanity. 



behind the scenes of the cinema was less appealing, for it 
was nothing less than the ruination of a potentially great 
art form. 

At the end of World War I, motion pictures had not yet 
chosen the direction which they would take. A handful 
of artists had, by that time, created a number of primitive 
but genuine works of art. In them, as one views them now 
in the basement screening room of the Museum of Modern 
Art, one seems to detect what may have been the beginnings 
of an art form that was both popular and satisfying by higher 
artistic standards — rather like the plays of Marlowe, neces- 
sary precursors of Shakespeare. The trouble with movies is 
that a Shakespeare never arrived or, if he did, he was never 
allowed to develop his talents. The comedians, who did the 
most completely satisfying work of the period, stood outside 
the main line of commercial development in the industry and 
were mostly unappreciated by aestheticians until our own 
time. The immense talents of D. W. Griffith and Erich Von 
Stroheim could not be fitted into the developing commercial 
patterns and they were shunted to one side, various excuses, 
mostly economic, being offered for their ostracism. New and 
genuine talent from abroad, men like Victor Seastrom, Ernst 
Lubitsch, Mauritz Stiller, were either bent to the commercial 
exigencies or compelled to leave in disgust. Home-grown 
talent like John Ford and King Vidor created isolated mas- 



terpieces and developed to a high degree the art of aesthetic 
survival through trickery. The business of "slipping things 
by" front office and censors — a nasty little game fostered in 
all the mass media — flourished, giving sustenance to its 
inevitable and enervating parasite, cynicism. 

All Hollywood could see were the forty million customers 
streaming into theaters every week to watch the stars go 
through their formula paces. Business on this scale surely 
caused the minds of the small, small businessmen, so lately 
removed from the nickelodeon days, to boggle. As for the 
banking interests who were, in the era of wild expansion, 
making greater and greater investments in movies, they 
thought they had bought into so many steel mills and weie 
interested only in steady, profitable production. 

As public relations devices, the studios occasionally 
turned out "art" films, but these were always literary rather 
than cinematic in artistic heritage; only the craftsmen of 
the industry sensed the true, and unique, nature of the 
medium's potential, but they had little to say about what 
was to be made. In the end, when the formula began to fail, 
after World War II, lack of vision received its true reward. 
In the meantime, there were the stars, and by them the 
industry set its erratic course. The trip was wonderful. 
What matter if no one knew the ultimate destination. 



41 



VALENTINO 

The new romantic 



It may be, after all these years, that we should readmit 
Rudolph Valentino to the human race. He was a man in- 
ordinately ill-served by everyone — the public, the press, the 
people who created and marketed his films, himself. His 
chief crime, in which all of these forces participated, was 
against the standard American concept of ideal manhood. 
He was too graceful and too beautiful — that was clear — 
but worse than that, he seemed weak. His weakness was 
merely sensed, sensed and commented upon by the American 
male, who did not like him, sensed and not admitted by the 
women, who did like him. 

In the still-lingering afterglow of the hysteria he gener- 
ated, he has become a kind of comic symbol of the excesses 
of his time and, indeed, there was much that was extremely 
funny about Valentino. There were, to begin with, the ab- 
surdly exotic settings in which his screen character was 
generally placed, not to mention the ludicrous costumes and 
decor with which they were freighted. But more important 
was the gap between the style he was forced to adopt in these 
films and the style that might have been natural to this rather 
shy and passive personality. The result was a terrible strain 
on him, and it is largely this strain which has been captured 
in the still photographs which are this generation's chief link 
with him. Adolph Zukor, who employed The Sheik, wrote 
that his acting "was largely confined to protruding his large, 
almost occult, eyes until vast areas of white were visible, 
drawing back the lips of his wide, sensuous mouth to bare 
his gleaming teeth, and flaring his nostrils." In other words, 
to indicate the outbursts of a smoldering flame that did not, 
in fact, exist, Valentino resorted to heroic Thespian exer- 
tions, defying all the laws of successful screen performance. 
The miracle is that he triumphed despite this nonsense. 

For this triumph he could thank the sensibilities of the 
women, who detected beneath the fakery, the real Valentino. 
If you are not distracted by his wildly flailing attempts to 
indicate a quality quite beyond him, you can still detect this 
essential Valentino at odd moments in his films. There is, 
to begin with, the softness of his mouth when he forgets to 
set it in a hard, determined line, when he is not forcing it 
to leer. There is, in addition, the withdrawn sadness of his 
eyes in their unpopped condition. Finally, and most im- 

42 






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Valentino's build was anything but that of 
"a pink powder puff." He was, however, a bit 
of a fop; and the American male, outraged at his 
effect on women, distrustful of his boudoir grace, 
was not in a mood to choose his adjectives care- 
fully. He was on stronger ground questioning 
the sincerity of the passion Valentino projected. 
The popping of the eyes (above) was one of his 
habitual — and less successful — ways of communi- 
cating something foreign to his rather passive 
nature. He was much more comfortable playing it 
straight (left) in Moran of the Lady Letty. 




In The Sainted Devil he managed an unwonted hardness. 



portant, there is the insinuating gracefulness of his move- 
ments when they are unencumbered by period costumes. It 
is not the grace of an athlete — it is quite un-Fairbanksian — 
it is the grace of, frankly, a seducer, perhaps even a gigolo. 
It is grace directed toward a single end — the smooth transfer 
of a woman from an upright to a reclining position. To 
waste such grace on a high jump or a pole vault would have 
been madness. To use it as he did was an insult to all the 
Anglo-Saxon traditions of male-female relations, refreshing 
to women, despicable to men. He was, in short, that infinitely 
attractive thing — a boy in man's clothing and a boy, what's 
more, with an obvious talent for sensuality, a talent which 
any woman might wish first to test and then to develop to 
a man's full-scale sexuality. 

There has never been a movie star in whose presence 
women more wanted to be, no star they more wanted to 
touch. There seemed to spring in his fans an eternal hope 
that one of them would awaken the real forces that slum- 
bered (as they thought I within him. They could see the 
strain which posing as a man of action caused him, they 
knew the gap between the pretenses his scenarios forced 
upon him and the real Valentino, and all of them thought 
they just might be the woman — if only he would just notice 
— through whom he could bridge the gap. 

Undoubtedly they sensed the truth about the real man, 
that he was fatally attracted to women stronger than he was. 



The one he chose as his wife very nearly succeeded in wreck- 
ing his career before his sudden death in 1926 ended it. 
She was a Salt Lake City girl named Winifred Shaunessy, 
stepdaughter of cosmetician Richard Hudnut. She was a 
designer and actress and in pursuit of these professions 
chose the cognomen Natacha Rambova. She began super- 
vising Valentino's pictures and she emphasized the softness 
of his character, putting him into foppish items like Mon- 
sieur Beaucaire, presenting him with a slave bracelet that 
he wore to the great derision of the masculine American. 

It was at this point that the Chicago Tribune called him 
a "pink powder puff" and suggested that he was setting a 
terrible example for American youth. Even the women began 
to desert him. For what Natacha didn't realize was that it 
was essential for Valentino to continue his brave attempts 
at strongly masculine behavior in his films. They served 
to remind his audience that there was a man within, a man 
waiting for release through love. The obligatory moment in 
his films where he threatened to — and sometimes actually 
did — take his heroine by force was, for his fans, a moment 
of high deliciousness. Beneath his demands, they sensed his 
gentleness. Once he had broken down resistance by its use 
they knew he would be gentle and kindly, a perfect lover. 
Without the tension between this fraudulent force and this 
real gentleness, Valentino was just a pretty profile, and that 
was what Natacha was reducing him to before they separated 



44 



It was pictures like this which ruined Valentino. 







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and he began his much publicized affair with Pola Negri. 

Valentino himself sensed the discrepancy between his 
screen self and his real self, and as false film followed false 
film he complained, "I am beginning to look more and more 
like my miserable imitators." Many of them were indeed 
better at playing the Valentino character than was Valen- 
tino. Perhaps he so willingly followed Natacha's suggestions 
because he oould no longer bear his pretense. He was, in any 
case, neither a stupid nor an insensitive man — despite the 
counterlegend his detractors created in the attempt to de- 
bunk him. He came from a relatively prosperous and edu- 
cated provincial Italian family. He had a diploma from a 
college of landscape architecture, and he had come to Amer- 
ica not as an immigrant seeking relief from oppression, but 
out of curiosity. He was a natural dancer, danced for pleas- 
ure in the hours after work as a gardener, then turned pro- 
fessional, taking over from Clifton Webb as Bonnie Glass's 
partner, touring with her until the act broke up in Los An- 
geles, where he found work as a minor movie player. Screen 
writer June Mathis sensed his appeal and brought him to 
Rex Ingram, who took a big chance by putting him into his 
arty super-production, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse 
at Metro, which, with notable lack of foresight, signed 
him only for that picture. Zukor picked him up before Metro 
quite realized what it had. The first film was a solid hit; 
The Sheik, made for Paramount, was a sensation, and the 
mold was cast. 

You could not say that Valentino was an intellectual, but 
he did have a natural sensitivity, which was his undoing. 
Lacking the strength to assert himself, even to be cynical, 
he buried his resentments inside himself, devoted himself 
with a surprisingly professional attitude to trying, somehow, 
to make himself believable. Of his physical strength he was 
more sure, but it was not enough, especially when the attacks 
on his masculinity reached their late heights. Some of his 
personal idiosyncrasies, his foppish dress, the womanish 
quality of his temper, served his enemies better than they 
did Valentino. More and more, toward the end, he talked 
of the tragic heroes he wanted to play — especially Piran- 
dello's men in search of identity. "A man should control 
his life," he said once, "mine is controlling me. I don't like 
it." The screen role he loved best was the one in The Four 
Horsemen. "Julio was a man who allowed his weakness to 
dictate his circumstances — myself," he once said. His death, 
creating the awesome outburst of madness which marred his 
memory irrevocably was caused by a perforated ulcer, that 
classic affliction of a man in debt to circumstance and unable 
to live with the debt. 




Valentino as he saw himself. "A man 
should control his life," he said. 
"Mine is controlling me." Searching 
for identity himself, he wanted 
to play a Pirandello hero. 



Valentino as women saw him. The 
film is The Conquering Power. 



47 




The Gilded Cage was vintage Swanson, the star at top power. 



The rivals 

SWANSON 



Cecil B. DeMille first noticed Gloria Swanson leaning 
against a door while some of Mack Sennett's clowns gam- 
boled by. At the moment she was just another girl who, for 
no good reason, thought she ought to be a movie star; a 
tiny, flat-chested, former ribbon clerk with the twang of the 
Middle West ringing loud and clear in her voice. DeMille 
thought there was a certain air of authority about her and 
guessed that she might be taught to project it on the screen. 
He swathed her in some of the damnedest costumes in 
Hollywood history, gave her a cigarette holder with which 
to gesture imperiously and had her hair redone in an out- 
landish manner which other ribbon clerks were led to think 



48 




'Gloria Swansons greatest achievement is her own face in repose," said one magazine. 



of as sophisticated. Then, in 1919, he popped her into the 
string of glittery films about upper-class infidelity he was 
making and told her to act the way she now looked. She 
should have failed, but she did not — perhaps because all 
her life she had been imagining how she would behave in 
just such situations as DeMille now placed her. 

She was something new in movie stars, ruthless, arrogant, 
willful and therefore a challenge to every male who thought 
he was man enough to tame the tiger, a being for every little 
kitten to try to emulate. No one really loved the lady, but 
nearly everyone was awed by her. 

There came a time when Adolph Zukor was willing to 



pay her a million dollars a year to keep her under contract. 
She refused; having become imbued with art, she took to 
producing her own films at United Artists, and her stardom 
burned less bright. Meantime, by assertion of divine right, 
she ruled Hollywood, the very model of the movie queen. 
There were those who could not quite forget the little girl 
who had been part of the first wave of adolescent immigrants 
to fantasy land. But so completely did she transform herself, 
basing her new role on the ones she had played on the screen, 
that only one person, Pola Negri, dared challenge Gloria 
Swanson's supremacy — and she failed. 



49 




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The rivals NEGRI 




Pola Negri, before Hollywood (left) in the German film Sumurun, and after. "I consider my work great, as I am a great artist." 



Pola Negri's early life was as exotic as Gloria Swanson's 
was plain. She was a genuine gypsy, whose father had some- 
how become involved in Poland's fight for independence 
from Russia and was exiled to Siberia as a result. After his 
death there, Pola attended the Imperial Ballet School, 
achieved theatrical success in Warsaw, and stardom in Ber- 
lin under Max Reinhardt. Along the way she married and 
discarded a count whose chief contribution to her life was 
a title which she flaunted at every opportunity. 

Success in an aptly titled Lubitsch epic, Gypsy Blood, 
brought her to the Paramount lot as a sort of modified 
vamp. There she immediately clashed with Swanson (whose 
activities were transferred first to the East Coast studios, 
then to Paris, where she acquired a titled husband — a 
marquis — of her own ) . Negri was soon alienating Hollywood 
by declaring it a cultural wasteland beneath her contempt 
and ostentatiously retiring in solitude with her books and 
music to keep her company. 



The public found her pretty silly. It was one thing to 
affect the queenly manner if it was well known that under- 
neath you were just a Midwestern kid. Everyone knew 
Swanson was play-acting and everyone thought she had 
earned the right to her fantasies. Negri was just another 
foreign pretender — and stuck-up, at that. 

When Negri hurtled cross-country to be at Valentino's 
deathbed it was the beginning of the end. They had indeed 
been lovers, and there is evidence that among his last words 
were, "Pola — if she does not come in time, tell her I think 
of her." But Negri laid on her grief a little too heavily, and 
shortly it became impossible to sell her films, despite ex- 
pensive efforts to revamp the vamp's image. She married a 
prince of dubious standing, returned to Germany, which 
understood her, continued to make movies and, briefly, was 
linked with Hitler. "Why not?" she asked. "There have been 
many important men in my life — Valentino for example." 



51 




The rivals 

MAE MURRAY 



One of the poses typical of the star's eccentric orbit. 



Even dizzy little Mae Murray found herself a prince to 
marry — the brother of Negri's nobleman. By the time she 
did so, however, she had quite convinced herself that she 
was not of this world, so it would be both unkind and unjust 
to suggest that careerism or social climbing had anything 
to do with it. "I've always felt that my life touches another 
dimension," she sighed on one occasion, and an apparently 
reputable psychiatrist agreed with her. When the marriage to 
the prince — who turned out to be a bit of a beast — went 
bad, the good doctor told her, "You live in a world of your 
own," and he suggested that she might care to consult 
Green Mansions to find a literary parallel to her own case. 
Sure enough, in the enchanted Rima, Mae Murray saw 
herself. 

She was a vague, fluttery, seemingly defenseless, over- 
sensitive creature who, despite considerable evidence that 
she was born Marie Adrienne Koenig in Portsmouth, Vir- 
ginia, insisted that she had always been Mae Murray and 



52 



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The French Doll. Miss Murray played the imaginative daughter of an antique dealer, acting out vignettes involving his wares. 



that she was born "on my father's boat whilst we were at 
sea." A great-grandmother, she said, had raised her, placing 
her in a series of European convents, in one of which she 
had been punished for dancing in the gardens at night. She 
was pretending that she was a firefly at the time, lighting 
matches as she whirled among the shrubbery. 

The ethereal quality of her imagination remained a con- 
stant throughout her career. She insisted on mood music 
being played on the set while she was acting. She once 
bought some jewelry at Tiffany's and paid for it with little 
bags of gold dust. When Jack Gilbert stalked off the set of 
The Merry Widow after a dispute with director Erich Von 
Stroheim, she chased him out into the parking lot clad in 
nothing but her shoes. In short, the details of ordinary life 
were just too much for her to master. Probably the height 
of her impracticality was reached when, hearing that Para- 
mount's East Coast office had recut one of her pictures, 
removing all its fairytale scenes, she boarded a train, sans 



baggage, and headed for New York. There she spent weeks 
crawling about a warehouse, rescuing snippets of film from 
the cutting-room floor and pasting them back into the film. 
That picture had been directed by her second husband. 
Robert Leonard, nicest of the three, but, according to Mae. 
insanely jealous of her. It was after their marriage broke 
up that she acquired her nobleman. With him she had a son 
— Koran, of all names — and with him she encountered 
career and money difficulties. Perhaps the public tired of 
her empty artiness, perhaps her well-publicized eccentricities 
swung opinion against her or maybe only Leonard really 
knew how to tailor a picture to her special talents. When the 
movies were finished with her. she retreated back to the 
Broadway musicals from which she had sprung. She now 
lives in retirement in Hollywood. Last year on a television 
program she said she thought Steve Reeves was the only 
current movie personality who matched those of her day. 
In a way, of course, she is right. 



53 



CLARA BOW 

It can happen here 



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Vainly, she tried to teach her elders 
to dance on the edge of a volcano. 
The name of the picture is Mantrap. 



Clara Bow: "She danced even when her feet were not 
moving," said Adolph Zukor. "Some part of her was in 
motion in all her waking moments — if only her great rolling 
eyes." Madame Elinor Glyn, pronounced her the greatest 
living example of It, which cruder minds took to be merely 
sex appeal. She had that, of course, but something more was 
present — elemental magnetism, some said; animal vitality, 
others called it. No matter. She had the ability to express a 
restless youth's superficial aspect — the delight in move- 
ment without thought of goal, a craving for fun, jazzy, des- 
perate, self-concealing fun. 

She was a cute little flapper, bird-brained, glassy-eyed, a 
jangle to the nerves, a restlessness in the mind, a Charleston 
in the night-streets of a suburb. Among the heavy-breathing, 
comically serious "artists" of the silent screen she was like 
a sudden chorus of Jada at a Wagnerian opera. 

She wanted to be a movie star more than anything else, 
and her father entered her photo in a fan magazine beauty 
contest. The prize was a part in a movie — and it was left 
on the cutting-room floor. There followed some quickie 
work, a trip across country to test for B. P. Schulberg, star- 
dom as the girl Scott Fitzgerald always seemed to be writing 
about. 

Sound, and nasty publicity about the results of her off- 
screen restlessness, ruined her. But as late as 1951, in good 
flapper fashion, she professed no regrets. From the twilight 
of a sanitarium room she declared: "We had individuality. 
We did as we pleased. We stayed up late. We dressed the 
way we wanted. I'd whiz down Sunset Boulevard in my 
open Kissel . . . with several red chow dogs to match my 
hair. Today, they're sensible and end up with better health. 
But we had more fun." 

Clara Bow's fame was her only identity, and there were 
those who said she was a lonely girl, desperately fighting 
the feeling that she was unwanted. There are those who say 
that this was true of her entire generation. 





54 







Four people in Hollywood had "It," said Elinor Glyn 

actor Tony Moreno; Rex, the wild stallion; 

the Ambassador Hotel doorman; and Clara Bow. 



WALLACE REID 




Wallace Reid as he appeared 
in Joan the Woman opposite 
Geraldine Farrar and under the 
direction of DeMille in 1917. 



Beautiful Wallace Reid came to Hollywood with his 
father, Hal, a playwright, thinking he might like to become 
a cameraman. Someone, however, had the wit to strip him 
down to a breechcloth to play an Indian in The Deerslayer. 
Then Jesse Lasky spotted him playing a blacksmith in The 
Birth of a Nation, signed him and kept him under contract 
for the eight years it took him to rise and fall. He had, 
Lasky recalls, "a keen sense of humor, a good singing voice, 
he played the saxophone and piano and was altogether the 
most magnetic, charming, personable, handsome young man 
I've ever met. And the most cooperative." 

In short, he was a nice guy, an average sort of man, with 
the average man's total lack of equipment for coping with 
sudden success. His screen personality was very like his 
real one, and he generally played good-natured, brotherly 
sorts. He made no strongly individual statement as a star. 
He was merely the best of the chisel-chinned, perfectly pro- 
filed, heavily brilliantined young leading men of the time. 
The combination of an ordinary manner with extraordinary 
looks was then, as now, a screen staple. It was both flatter- 
ing and reassuring to the audience. 

It was probably this very ordinariness that was Reid's 
undoing. Under pressure, he made too many pictures too 
quickly, and his life as a star was too difficult for him to 
fully comprehend and manage. His end began in 1920 in 
New York, where he was making Forever. Suffering from 
insomnia, exhaustion, anxiety and the bootleg booze he 
had been using as a prop for his ego, he began taking mor- 
phine so that he could face the camera (and the heat and 
glare of the klieg lights, which bothered many screen per- 
formers in those days) with some degree of poise. Before 
long, he was hooked. 

The story of his addiction broke simultaneously with the 
trials of Fatty Arbuckle, the adroit Mack Sennett comedian 
charged with manslaughter, and the strange, rumor-ridden 
murder of William Desmond Taylor, a top director. Qf the 
two cases, Arbuckle's was the more sordid. In the course 
of a midday drinking party in San Francisco, Arbuckle had 
escorted a minor actress named Virginia Rappe into another 
room and there had had sexual relations with her. Four days 
later she died of peritonitis caused by a ruptured bladder. 
The state charged that Arbuckle, in the course of his sexual 
adventure, had induced the fatal wound. It took three trials 
(there were two hung juries) to clear Arbuckle of the 
criminal charges, and in the course of them the courts 
heard, and the press lovingly reported, a succession of ex- 



56 



The hero as victim 



tremely unpleasant details about the nature of Fatty's party 
and its course on the fatal day. These confirmed everyone's 
worst suspicions about the quality of life in Hollywood. 

Envious resentment had been growing, along with vicarious 
pleasure, as the star system grew. The resentments, based on 
the fame and money which were suddenly pressed upon the 
stars merely for existing — not for doing anything the puritan 
segment of the nation could justify as useful — needed only 
an Arbuckle case to focus upon. The press, of course, fed 
these as readily as it had fed the nation's need for gossip. 

Just as Fatty, his career already ruined, went to trial 
for the last time, the Taylor story broke. His murder went 
unsolved, but in their investigations the police discovered 
that Mabel Normand — quite innocently — had visited Tay- 
lor the day before. Then they found that Mary Miles Minter, 
the virginal heroine of Chaplin films, had been inordinately 
fond of Taylor, who was twice her age. She might have lived 
this down had she not staged a particularly gauche scene 
at Taylor's funeral, embracing his body and claiming after- 
ward that he had whispered to her, "I love you, Mary." 
People could not square this with her screen personality 
any more easily than they could Arbuckle 's behavior with 



his. She was ruined. Miss Normand, a truly delightful co- 
medienne, survived professionally until, three years later, a 
man was killed in a brawl over her favors. 

Hollywood desperately hired Will Hays, not so much to 
clean up film content (that came later) as to scrub its image. 
The very presence of square, starchy Hays on the scene 
helped, as did Cecil B. DeMille's production of The Ten 
Commandments, first of the Biblical epics. Finally, Wallace 
Reid performed his greatest service for the screen when he 
died, in 1923, in the sanitarium where he had gone for one 
last, desperate attempt to free himself from narcotics. "I'll 
either come out cured or I won't come out," he had said. 

Mrs. Reid, who promptly made — with Hays's covert as- 
sistance — a film expose of the narcotics habit, blamed the 
tragedy on the bad habits Reid had acquired from "his 
Bohemian friends" and got up a fund for a memorial chapel 
in New York's Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The indus- 
try made up a list of 117 players whose private lives were 
"unsafe," inserted morals clauses in all contracts and hoped 
the stars would behave themselves. What would happen 
next, author Elinor Glyn was asked. "Whatever will bring 
in the most money will happen," she replied sagely. 




Reid in a highly symbolic still from The Charm School, just prior to his fall from grace. 



NORMA and DOLORES 



Norma Talmadge — "Thank God for the trust funds.' 




But even amidst scandal, the essential Hollywood flour- 
ished. And, nothing being more essential to it than girls, 
here are four of them — none truly a star of the first magni- 
tude, yet all with a demonstrable ability to survive and, in 
varying degrees, to prosper. In their careers can be read 
some curious lessons about stardom and its nature. 

Norma Talmadge was what can be described only as a 
pseudo actress. After her days as a Biograph leading lady — 
very much in the Pickford mold (as who was not in those 
days?) — she tended to specialize in parts requiring her to 
cry a great deal and to age considerably. The ability to do 
both is widely believed by movie audiences to be per se evi- 
dence of acting talent and, since frequently not even this 
much is required of the female screen star, they may be 
correct. At any rate Miss Talmadge and her sister Con- 
stance — who had a belle-of-the-ball quality and who gen- 
erally played lighter parts than her more determined older 
sister — prospered during the twenties. Both had begun as 
teen-agers, products of the spirited urgings of a stage mother 
of the classic type. Norma married Joseph Schenck at this 
time and, like many less talented women, found marriage to 
an industry leader (he was president of United Artists) a 
considerable aid to the extension of her career at the head 
of the second rank. When sound entered, Constance quit the 
movies and wired her sister, "Leave them while you're look- 
ing good and thank God for the trust funds Momma set up." 
Norma, however, felt she must prove herself and, after a year 
of voice training, made her sound debut in 1930, with some 
success. Her second talkie, Madame Dubarry, fared poorly, 
and after its failure, she quit. 

One of her costars in Dubarry was Dolores Del Rio, one 
of the most beautiful women in screen history. She was one 
of the very few actresses from south of the border to achieve 
any sort of career in Hollywood. Unlike her European coun- 
terparts, however, she was never cast as a vamp. Rather, she 
played "an assortment of puzzled Indian and Polynesian 
maidens." A wealthy and well-bred girl, she may have been 
the victim of southern California stereotyping, which finds a 
woman of Miss Del Rio's obvious qualities at variance with 

Dolores Del Rio — perhaps her era's greatest beauty. 



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DOLORES and NORMA 




its cultural attitudes toward Mexicans. Or it may have been 
that she was simply too beautiful and intelligent to be cast 
in the right sort of roles; it is only recently that beauties in 
the truly classic mold have achieved stardom — a touch of the 
common has long been widely regarded as essential for audi- 
ence identification. In any case, Miss Del Rio had precious 
few good parts — a nice bit in What Price Glory?, even better 
roles in Journey into Fear and The Fugitive (both twenty 
years later ) . She was forced to return to her native land to 
achieve full-scale recognition. Recently she played a part on 
television and commented, "I took the part because it per- 
mitted me to play an intelligent, sensitive woman of charac- 
ter." The implication of her statement speaks volumes. 

The other Dolores (Costello) should, perhaps, have done 
better than she did in Hollywood. She was the daughter of 
a distinguished theatrical family, and she was the wife of 
John Barrymore, who sensed in her a naturalness that was 
indeed the quality she best projected on the screen. "She 
walked into the studio like a charming child," Barrymore 
recalled. "Slender and shy and golden-haired. Never saw 
such radiance. My God! I knew that she was the one I had 
been waiting for. Waiting all my life, just for her." Barry- 
more promoted her career determinedly, but, in truth the 
times were against him. She was not right for romantic or 
flapper roles or as the hard and brittle women who became 
fashionable on the screen in the early thirties. She is repre- 
sentative of all the bright, brief careers that have flashed, 
then quickly flickered out in Hollywood. 

Norma Shearer proved much more adaptable. She was 
hard-working, dependable, ambitious, bright, less beautiful 
than the average star, and not a strong personality. She got 
her start in short comedies, worked as a model, came to 
M-G-M for $150 a week, made eight films in her first year, 
mostly on loan-out, finally made her way all the way up the 
ladder when she married production chief Irving Thalberg. 
She too became an aspiring actress, even essaying Shake- 



Dolores Costello in a typically winsome pose. 




Late Shearer — in Robert Sherwood's Idiot's Delight. 



speare's Juliet in one of the ventures into literature Thalberg 
so frequently undertook. He died in 1936, and without him 
her career did not fare well. She turned down two pictures — 
Gone With the Wind and Mrs. Miniver — that would have, to 
say the least, revived her career, and she made, instead, films 
that were either trifles or ponderous bores. Her last two films 
failed miserably, and she said later, "On those last two, no one 
but myself was trying to do me in." 

What meanings are we to take from all this? The most ob- 



vious is that the right connections can mean a great deal to 
a career, though not everything as Miss Costello proved. It 
is equally clear that mismanagement can prevent one from 
fully realizing potential (Miss Del Rio I and that it can 
quickly destroy an established career (Miss Shearer I . Finally 
the Misses Shearer and Talmadge prove that the ability to 
resist type-casting, while it may prevent one from being a 
top star, can unquestionably preserve an unspectacular talent 
longer than one might believe possible. 



61 




Barrymore as he appeared on the stage. 



BARRYMORE 

The actor as star 



In 1926, shortly after he came to Hollywood, John Barry- 
more wrote to a friend in New York, "The most wonderful 
accident that ever happened to me was my coming out to this 
God-given, vital, youthful, sunny place." Barrymore was, at 
the time, forty-four — rather elderly to be casting his lot 
definitively with the movies. Already lapses of memory, per- 
haps the result of drinking, had begun to plague him, and 
there is no doubt that his taking up residence in Hollywood 
was mostly motivated by negative reasons — the desire to 
escape New York, scene of his recent divorce from Michael 
Strange, and the need, always chronic with him, for more 
money. His greatest triumph, his Hamlet of 1922-23 was only 
three years behind him, but it had drained him (he never 
again undertook a part of comparable difficulty ) , and he 
regarded the Hollywood trip as both an adventure and a 
restorative — which for a time it was. 

He was a veteran of some fifteen films when he came to 
the Coast. None of them, with the exception of Dr. Jekyll 
and Mr. Hyde, had been particularly notable; and the silents 




*y 



****** 







62 




The star at ease in his Hollywood home. 





Three stages of the Barrymore career. 
Above, the perfect leading man 
in The Beloved Rogue. Right, the Great 
Profile blurred, he continued to 
work throughout the thirties as a 
character actor, frequently parodying 
his former screen self. 



64 




he made after 1925 — The Sea Beast, Don Juan, When a Man 
Loves, The Magnificent Rogue — added little to his luster. 
His style, however, was eminently suitable to the romantic 
dramas of the time, grand without being overbearing, intelli- 
gent but not lacking in a certain dash, vigor and humor. 
Heywood Broun noted that he entered a movie scene "like 
an exquisite paper knife"; and it was an apt description. 
There was an intelligence and control in his work as a lead- 
ing man generally lacking in that of his contemporaries. 

There is evidence, too, that he was temporarily happy. 
His love for young Dolores Costello had a revitalizing effect 
on him, as did the possession of a new yacht, The Mariner, 
which he seemed to regard as an expression of his true self 
in the midst of Hollywood's phoniness. His presence in pic- 
tures lent a cachet to the entire industry, and he was well 
worth the $76,250 he received for each of them. 

Still, John Barrymore's career as a film actor would have 
been no more than a footnote in either his own record of 
achievement or Hollywood's history, had it not been for the 




fact that he acted out before the motion-picture audience the 
final scenes in the drama of his self-destruction. By 1930, as 
he approached fifty and as Hollywood went into its sound- 
inspired panic, the Great Profile began to soften and blur: his 
cheeks became slightly puffy, the clean line of his jaw began 
to sag, and a small but obvious dewlap developed beneath 
his chin. By the middle of the decade his marriage to Miss 
Costello was at an end, his earning capacity was severely im- 
paired, and both his drinking and his lapses of memory had 
become chronic. 

A Barrymore film now also offered a kind of horrified 
fascination — had the star slipped another notch, was he hold- 
ing his own in his battle with this lingering illness of the 
spirit or was he, as sometimes happened (most notably in 
Grand Hotel and Bill of Divorcement) , actually rallying? 
More and more, during the thirties, he played a parody of 
himself — an aging ham actor, a posturing drunk. Nowhere 
was this more bitterly revealed than in Dinner at Eight, an 
all-star production of 1933. His performance was not really 
good, but rarely has there been a more interesting one in 
the movies. Barrymore knew full well that he was playing 
his latter-day self, yet, throughout, he attempted to keep his 
distance from that self — in effect, to play another actor en- 
gaged to play John Barrymore. The attempt was brave and 
the younger Barrymore might have succeeded in this 
Pirandellian trick. Here it was quite beyond him, although 
he did create a kind of pathetic dignity as an actor who, in 
a single day, loses all self-illusions and, in a drunken attempt 
at a brilliant exit, commits suicide, carefully arranging the 
lighting of the scene before turning on the gas. 

Within a few years, and despite the best efforts of friends 
to find him work, Barrymore, who by this time had to have 
his lines written out on slates and held before him out of 
camera range, could find no work but as this parody person. 
The most notable thing about his screen presence at the time 
was the distance in his eyes, which seemed never to be quite 
focused on anything. They seemed veiled, as if to protect the 
actor from knowledge of what he was doing, and to be look- 
ing far beyond the work at hand, perhaps back into the 
triumphant and profligate past, perhaps searching for a clue 
to this wretched present — or maybe they were merely trying 
to read the cue cards held up in the glare of the set. One 
thing is certain: never has our insistence on seizing hold of 
one aspect of a man's character and creating from it an im- 
mutable screen personality had more tragic results. Barry- 
more died May 29, 1942, of a complex of illnesses, a talented 
man forced into one of the most devastating self-exposures in 
the history of an art based on the display of the self. 



The strange ways of immortality: 
Barrymore signs his name in concrete 
at Graumans Chinese Theater. 



65 



JOAN CRAWFORD 



The star as star 




I Live My Life was the appropriate title of the picture. 



Jerry Wald, the indefatigably ebullient producer, was 
discussing the institution of stardom recently and remarked: 
"One gal I really respect is Joan Crawford. Crawford the 
Indomitable. Whether she's on the set or on the street or 
plugging a picture or plugging Pepsi-Cola, she's a star. 
That's her profession and she never lets you down." 

Her only definition is as a star. You cannot extract from 
her work on the screen anything, a mannerism, a gesture, a 
habit of speech which betrays the "real" Joan. When she 
sweeps into the frame of a film we see not the entrance of 



a character, but the entrance of that curious abstraction- 
the movie star. When she "acts" she subtly communicates 
the fact that that is what she is doing. "Watch this," she 
seems to say, "I'm going to act for you now — and it's going 
to be great." 

She came to Hollywood in 1925, an ex-chorine named 
Lucille Le Sueur who had had a nasty, poverty-stricken child- 
hood under the name of Billie Cassin. Her screen name was 
created for her, in a fan magazine contest, by a Rochester 
housewife. Pudgy and rather bland, there seemed little reason 
to expect anyone to pick up her options for very long. 
But no sooner had she arrived at M-G-M than she began 
the process of creating herself. For months she nibbled on 
a diet consisting mainly of crackers, starving herself down 
to that eminently photographable angularity of face and 
figure which was to be the foundation of her longevity. In 
the process, her eyes — large, rolling, with just a hint of 
hysteria in them — first took on the importance they now 
have in her physiognomy. 

Psychologically, her major asset has always been adapta- 
bility. There has never been time to get tired of Joan Craw- 
ford, because a new one is always being unveiled. Her first 
major success came in 1928, in Our Dancing Daughters, 
with its famous Charleston sequence. She followed this with 
a number of flaming-youth films, modulating into the con- 
fession films that were such a vogue in the early thirties. She 
overmatched herself in Rain (as Sadie Thompson), then 
seemed to idle along, not quite at top speed, alternating 
between musicals and undistinguished problem dramas 
through the rest of the decade. She was a star in name only. 
That is to say, her name was displayed above the title on 
any number of films, but none of them were important pic- 
tures. Formula films, they disappeared from memory almost 
as soon as the audience left the theater. Miss Crawford was 
just another second-stringer at Metro, which at the time hac 
the best bench in the business. It was during this era that 
she was like a chameleon clinging to a slippery perch. Let 
someone else begin a film cycle and you could be certain that 
Joan Crawford would be in the second or third film in the 



66 





The youthful Crawford in a sequel to Our Dancing 
Daughters called Our Blushing Brides (left) . The more 
mature actress suffers schizophrenia in Possessed (1947). 



67 







rff2 



The eyes have always had it. In 1932 they looked wildly 
askance at Walter Hustons lustful preacher in Rain. 
In 1954 they expressed the terror of a wealthy woman 
who discovers that her youthful husband plans 
to murder her. The name of the film is Sudden Fear. 



hung on. 

Finally, in 1943, she left M-G-M for Warner's, and it was 
at that point that she began at last to emerge as a remarkable 
phenomenon. There was a hiatus while her new studio 
fiddled around, looking for vehicles for her. The rumor that 
they were looking for a graceful way to drop her began to 
spread. "Let them try," she snarled. Two years later she 
made Mildred Pierce, fittingly enough, the tale of an utterly 
determined woman, fighting to improve herself economically 
and socially, desperately putting aside humble origins, ba- 
nality, ordinariness, to claw out for herself a position as a 
top woman executive (and losing her chance for love in the 
process). It might have been called The Joan Crawford 
Story. For her performance she received the Academy 
Award. 

68 



Then followed the series of pictures in which the star has 
unforgettably limned the outlines of the American Woman 
in the throes of status panic. In the process, at last, she 
achieved the identity which had so long been denied her. 
Her career is a tale of tenacity, and although she has yet to 
appear on anyone's list of great actresses or even favorite 
screen personalities, one can scarcely avoid going to her 
films. One goes to be in the presence of a miracle. "How 
does she do it?" you ask. And also, frequently, "What am 
I doing here?" 

Joan Crawford is an American phenomenon, the incredi- 
bly strong and determined woman, and at the box office we 
pay tribute to her shrewd, single-minded, unwavering pursuit 
of success. She lacks genuine appeal to men, but, because of 
the special nature of her career she is the master of what 







!9 



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the trade knows as the "woman's picture." In these she 
suffers incredible agonies of the spirit in her attempts to 
achieve love and/or success, and her natural desire for these 
is constantly played upon by men of the nastiest sort — 
would-be gigolos, aging roues, frauds — all of whom offer her 
temporary surcease from loneliness, but at a terrible price 
jto her dignity, and without proffering ultimate satisfaction. 
The women suffer along with Miss Crawford, but are re- 
assured by what they know of her own career, which clearly 
states that a woman can triumph in a man's world. 

As for Crawford herself, she carries herself with pride in 
herself and in her chosen profession — stardom. Once her pet 
poodle made himself very sick by nibbling on a carpet at 
Republic studios. "Cliquot was always happy when I was at 
the glamorous studios, like M-G-M and Warner Brothers," 



said Miss Crawford. "But when I went to Republic [definitely 
a second-rate operation] he got into trouble. Cliquot is 
miserable when I'm not working. When we go to a studio 
he is very happy." Cliquot obviously learned his moods 
somewhere. 

Humphrey Bogart once growled, "The words 'movie stars' 
are so misused that they have no meaning. Any little pinhead 
who makes one picture is a star. Gable is a star. Cooper is 
a star, Joan Crawford, as much as I dislike the lady, is a 
star. ... To be a star you have to drag your weight into 
the box office and be recognized wherever you go." Joan 
Crawford is a star because she says she is and because she 
has, through the years, insisted on the point so repeatedly 
and so firmly that the studios and the audience in general 
have finally conceded the point. 

69 



LON CHANEY 

Genius without profile 



Lon Chaney was known as "the man of a thousand faces," 
but it would be more precise to say that he was a man with 
no face at all. In this sense, he was the most remarkable star 
the American screen has ever produced, offering his audi- 
ence no recognizable traits of personality, even of face or 
body, with which they could identify. The child of deaf-mute 
•parents he early achieved mastery of pantomine as a means 
of communication. A silent, publicity-shy man he relied only 
on this talent to establish human communion with his audi- 
ence. Through it he created the aura of humanity that sur- 
rounded his most physically repulsive characterizations. 
Nearly always, the real Chaney hid behind grotesque (but 
masterfully created) make-up. Frequently he strapped his 
body into horribly contorted, tremendously painful positions 
to simulate the twisted, mutilated bodies of the people he 
portrayed. By rights he should have been merely another 
Hollywood character actor; that he achieved stardom is a 
tribute to his mimetic gifts. For however he racked his body, 
however much make-up he applied, he remained a recog- 
nizable human being. Never once were his afflictions attrib- 
uted to supernatural causes. Never once did he fail to com- 
municate the essential fact that, whatever had been done to 
him, he remained a man, a man capable of feeling, even of 
love. In his films, decent people turned away from him in 
fright and in horror; but in nearly all of them, someone — 
usually a character of great simplicity — accepted him on his 
own terms, saw beneath the monster to the man within. 
Chaney offered a challenge to his audience — would it turn 
away in disgust or open its heart? For the most part, it 
responded, classically, with pity and terror. In the aftermath 
of war, with disgust for man's inhumanity to man at its 
highest pitch in twentieth-century America, Chaney in his 
various deformed incarnations taught two prized lessons. 
The first was that there was no depth to the horror man could 
perpetrate on his fellows. The second was that an open, 
sympathetic heart could do much to salve these wounds 
and perhaps see that they would not happen again. 

70 




Chaney worked as a bit player in prewar films, achieved stardom in The Miracle Man 
(1920) , greatness in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (above) . 









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The star: Between takes with his son. 



It was said that Erich Von Stroheim's mother had been a 
lady in waiting to the Empress of Austria, that his father had 
been a colonel of dragoons. This may or may not have been 
true, but one thing was certain: as an actor he was the per- 
fect incarnation of the Teutonic military spirit, perfectly 
projecting that lustful blend of sadism and sentimentality 
which marks the type. Just how he got to Hollywood — and 
why he came — is not clear, but he was first noticed as an 
assistant to Griffith. He had his first vogue as an actor during 
World War I, when, almost single-handedly, he created the 
home front's image of what it was fighting against. 

When the war ended, and with it the market for his serv- 
ices, Von Stroheim convinced Carl Laemmle of Universal 
that he ought to be a director, and for him he made the first 
of his several masterpieces, Blind Husbands. It was a smash 
hit, rescued Universal from a desperate financial situation 
and, most important, brought degeneracy to the screen. This 
film, like his others, had an unblinking realism, a Tightness 
of detail that bespoke, if not intimate knowledge, then an 
instinctive feeling for the mood of an aristocracy in decline. 

Von Stroheim was the poet of lust in all its forms and all 

of his films were striking visual metaphors about the effect 

| on men of this most degrading of the deadly sins. Alas, Von 

The essence of "the man you love to /ia/e." 



ERICH 

VON STROHEIM 

Genius without portfolio 




The Director: On location in Death Valley, shooting Greed. 



Stroheim behind the camera was as brutal and as profligate 
as one of his own characters. The stories of his excesses have 
become Hollywood legend — how he kept an entire company 
waiting twenty hours for a dog to sneeze (four extras 
fainted ) ; how he ordered the underwear of extras I which 
would never be seen on screen I embroidered with a coat of 
arms; how he shot fifty reels of film for a picture that could 
not use more than ten of them. 

His downfall was Greed. Until then he had laid his scenes 
in Europe, well-known by Americans to be in the final agony 
of payment for its sins. Now he turned to America and 
demonstrated that it was as debauched as the Austro- 
Hungarian Empire. Released in a butchered, but still brilliant 
version, it was offensive to the comparatively few Americans 
who saw it; in an uneasily materialistic decade, the picture 
tapped a guilty national conscience. Von Stroheim directed 
a few more films, worked occasionally as an actor, made a 
brief comeback portraying the hated Hun in World War II 
movies and another in Sunset Boulevard (1950). A movie 
genius, and a genius at self-destruction, he died in Paris in 
1957, exiled from the American industry, which had never 
understood him and which therefore feared him too much to 
make intelligent use of his talent. 



73 



TOM MIX 

Cowboy to an age 




Mix comes perilously close to riding sidesaddle. 



There must be a cowboy, and cowboy to the era of won- 
derful nonsense was Tom Mix. His presence was enough to 
make the disciple of pure Western form shudder. He habit- 
ually appeared in public dressed all in white, and his home 
rivaled Valentino's Falcon's Lair and Doug and Mary's 
Pickfair in ostentation. Its embellishments could have oc- 
curred only to a cowboy who, after a long, hard winter hits 
town and sweeps the table in a poker game grander than 
the imagination can bear. Atop his house, lights flung a 
challenge to the heavens, spelling out his name in letters 
taller than a man. Inside there was a fountain that sprayed 
water alternately blue, pink, green, red. When Samuel 
Goldwyn gave Vilma Banky and Rod LaRocque the wedding 
to end all weddings, Mix drove to it in a coach-and-four — 
probably something of an inconvenience for a man whose 
auto contained a complete bar. He publicly showered his 
wife and his daughter, Thomasina, with jeweled gifts to rival 



those of a potentate, and he still had enough money to retire ! 
completely when sound came. 

With all of this, he was, technically speaking, the most 
proficient horseman in movie history. Born in Mix Run, '| 
Pennsylvania, he had gone west at an early age, was twice 
a real-life sheriff and was a Texas Ranger for three years. In 
addition, he had been a soldier of fortune in the Boer War 
and had served in the United States Army both in the 
Spanish-American War and in the Boxer Rebellion. He made 
his first movie in Oklahoma in 1910, when the Selig Com- 
pany, out of Chicago on location, hired him as an extra. He 
was a minor Western star before and during the time 
William S. Hart was casting the screen stereotype of the . 
Man of the West. It was not until Hart fell out of step with 
his time that Mix became the ranking screen cowboy. 

His version of the West was much more romanticized than 
Hart's. Realism bored him, and the idea of being anything 
as subtle as a good bad man was quite beyond him. The West 
was, for him, merely an abstraction, a convenient, stylized 
backdrop against which to act out his simple dramas of 
heroism. He was, on the screen, a puritan of the plains, 
tempted neither by bad women nor good whiskey. 

Nevertheless, the real Westerners who acted as extras and 
stunt men in Hollywood productions preferred riding with 
him to riding with Hart, who was less adept than Mix when 
atop a horse. An able stunt man, Mix never used doubles and 
was perfectly capable of galloping his horse, Tony, through 
a cattle stampede, throwing the animal next to his imperiled 
heroine, always a rather bland little creature, at precisely 
the right moment, then sheltering her in the lee of the horse 
while the herd thundered by. 

He had that kind of empty bravery — the bravery of the 
soldier of fortune, the man for whom risk is an end in itself. 
He lacked Hart's feeling for — and of — the Old West. Like 
most of his audience, Mix felt no regret at its passing. He 
felt no need for a sense of place, no need for roots. The thrill 
of the moment was enough for him — that and his name hi ! 
lights ten feet tall, reassuring him as to his fame but not, alas, 
guaranteeing him a distinguished immortality. 



74 



The house that Tom built, fit for a cattle baron, but not for a cowboy. 



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MALE 

AND 

FEMALE 



Charles Farrell and Janet Gaynor in Street Angel. 



The history of love teams is almost as long as that of 
the movies in America. The first of any importance was that 
of wooden Francis X. Bushman and Beverly Bayne, who, 
prior to World War I, kept their real-life marriage secret lest 
it destroy the illusions of their fans. They needn't have 
bothered, for the secret of the love team's success lies in the 
inevitability of its members coming together in the last reel. 

Inevitability is a subject not often discussed by motion- 
picture critics, who set great store by novelty. But the truth 
is that both the star system and the construction of the aver- 
age film depend on giving people, if not what they want, then 
what they have been led, by experience, to expect. The ex- 
cellent American film is one which works highly original 
variations within the stylization demanded by the half dozen 
or so time-tested genres that account for most of our produc- 
tion. How else can one explain the very real sense of dis- 
appointment one feels when, somehow, the wrong — that is to 
say, the novel — ending suddenly appears in the last reel? 
Only Alfred Hitchcock, who has assiduously cultivated the 
idea that his films will always have a surprise ending, and 
who therefore leads us into the theater expecting a trick, can 
get away with it. 

The presence of Colman and Banky, Farrell and Gaynor 
in a movie was an absolute guarantee that the movie would 
meet all preconceived notions of how a romance should end. 
The coming of sound cut off the Colman-Banky liaison just 
as it was about to become an institution. Hungarian-born 
Vilma Banky simply could not master the intricacies of Eng- 
lish, and since she was happily married to Rod LaRocque, 
she went off to Europe and made a few films with him, after 
which the two settled down to a comfortable, easy-going 



76 



Ronald Colman and Vilma Banky in One Night of Love. 



semi-retirement in Hollywood. Her only genuine difference 
from the other vamps was that she was blonde and they 
tended to be dark. 

Colman, of course, with his well-tuned British accent, 
prospered mightily in sound pictures. He was, in the words 
of one observer, "the middle-aged woman's hope and de- 
spair." The romances of the love teams were indeed aimed 
at an older audience, an audience not seeking identification 
so much as it was the restoration of belief. 

Colman and Banky cavorted in Graustarkian situations, 
by and large, but Charles Farrell and Janet Gaynor, who co- 
starred for over seven years, were quite a different thing. 
They were "average" — in the sense that the characters in 



soap operas are said to be average. Farrell was, in the words 
of a competitor, "the oldest choirboy," just as Miss Gaynor 
was, until her memorable appearance in A Star Is Bom 
{ 1937 ) , the oldest schoolgirl. Undoubtedly they offered a 
false nostalgia, recalling the fun, romance and heartaches of 
young love, which moviegoers delightedly imagined had 
been part of their own early lives. 

It is perhaps a measure of the slightly-increased sophis- 
tication of screen content that there are no love teams now 
working with the steadiness that these did, and that no pair- 
ing of actress and actor has achieved the kind of adulation 
that these and the greatest team of them all, Gilbert and 
Garbo, achieved. 





Gilbert, Garbo, grapes in Queen Christina, one of his comeback attempts. 







\ 



> 




GILBERT 

and 
GARBO 



Adela Rogers St. John wrote that "in the full flower of 
their romance, Gilbert and Garbo were added by movie fans 
to the list of immortal lovers, Romeo an3 Juliet, Dante and 
Beatrice, Anthony and Cleopatra. They portrayed love be- 
tween man and woman as Shakespeare wrote it in his sonnets 
to the Dark Lady." They were, indeed, a perfect combi- 
nation on screen — Garbo, the enigma; Gilbert, the clever 
and sophisticated boudoir strategist, the one man in the 
world capable of penetrating the enigma. The scenes be- 
tween them have the fascination of a duel, erotic tension 
building between them until the lady's ultimate capitulation, 
and extending through the afterglow, which lasts for several 
scenes. Against the stylized absurdities of their backgrounds, 
and despite the nonsensical plots which brought the two to- 
gether, Gilbert and Garbo created real romance, an intimacy 
which belied the fantasy surrounding them. 

In this work they were undoubtedly aided by the general 
knowledge that they were off-screen lovers. Gilbert, who, ac- 
cording to a friend, "had a tendency to overcapitalize ro- 
mance both on the screen and off," brought enthusiasm and 
therefore believability to his work in the love scenes. Essen- 
tially a troubled, not terribly bright man, he apparently 
carried a torch for Garbo for many years. She, according to 
reliable reports, loved him for exactly fourteen days, al- 
though twice she seemed on the point of marrying him and 
was at some pain to extend the relationship on a just-good- 
friends basis for quite a while. In 1933, four years after their 
last silent film together, in the period of Gilbert's decline, 
she was instrumental in casting him in Queen Christina. 
partly for sentimental reasons, partly because he was emi- 
nently right for the part of her Spanish lover. Gilbert came 
to their love scenes with his customary ardor. Garbo sug- 
gested he tone them down. "Backward, turn backward, 
Time, in your flight," Gilbert sighed in vain. 

79 



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Gilbert as a family man in The White Circle. 



John Gilbert was a contradictory personality. To some — 
especially those in the audience — he was a dashing, yet 
wholesome cavalier, a perfect figure of romance. To his 
friends he was gay, reckless, convivial, slightly mad in the 
manner of many stars. To his enemies, as numerous as his 
friends, he was conceited, rebellious, a spoiled child. One 
of them, former boxer Jim Tully wrote, "his emotion is on 
the surface. His nature is not deep. His enthusiasms are as 
transient as newspaper headlines." 

Actually, Gilbert's behavior reflected a troubled, perhaps 
even bitter, man. The child of third-rate stock-company 
actors, he did not much like his profession. He had come to 
Hollywood hoping to direct and was frequently promised 
such work in order to lure him into acting parts that were 
distasteful to him. He was a minor star until, under Von 
Stroheim's direction, he triumphed in The Merry Widow. 
He followed this with an even more impressive performance 
in The Big Parade. "That was worth doing," he said. "All 
the rest was balderdash." 

From this point on he was the biggest male star since 
Valentino. In him the two major male film personality styles 
of the time met. He could essay either the hearty good humor 



of the collar-ad types or the grace of the Latin lovers. Hence 
the ease with which he slipped from the American soldier's 
role in Parade to Flesh and the Devil with Garbo. 

His tragedy, of course, was his voice. It is well-known that 
he signed a million-dollar contract with M-G-M just before 
the coming of sound, how badly his voice miked in the early, 
crude days of sound, making ludicrous the high-flown dia- 
logue of his first talkie, His Glorious Night. Studio and friends 
tried to help him, no one attempted to cancel his contract, 
various vehicles were tried for him, but his voice continued 
to evoke snickers from the audience. 

Always a heavy drinker, his consumption increased, and 
in 1935 he died of a heart attack. Oddly, when he died he 
may have been standing on the brink of a comeback. He had 
accepted a character role in a minor film and, as a drunken 
screen-writer, speaking naturalistic, rather cynical dialogue, 
his thin voice was actually an asset. It had apparently never 
occurred to anyone in sound-panicked Hollywood that while 
it is hard to change voices it is possible to change images 
and that playing a character more like himself, less like a 
fantasy construct, he might have survived sound. 



80 



GILBERT 





His Glorious Night with Catherine Dale Owen 
was John Gilbert's first talkie — and his downfall. 
The famous "white voice" sounded surpassingly silly. 
mouthing the high-flown romanticisms of the script. 



81 



GARBO 



The facts of Greta Gustafsson's early life 'are simple 
enough. She was born in Stockholm, September 18, 1905, 
the child of country people who had a hard time adjusting 
to the life of the city. Her father, a quiet, handsome man, 
was never able to provide his family with more than the bare 
necessities of life. After he died in 1920, Greta went to work 
as an apprentice in a barbershop (a fairly common choice of 
work for Swedish girls), quickly left for an apprenticeship 
in the millinery department of a large store. It was in this 
job that she gained her first theatrical experience, appearing 
in a short advertising film that the store prepared. After that 
she did another, about the bakery business, for the same 
director. 

She had long held, and frequently talked about, an ambi- 
tion to be an actress. So, in 1922, when the opportunity 
came, she left the department store in order to appear in her 
first professional film, a little knockabout comedy in the 
Sennett manner. When it was finished she gained admit- 
tance — with only the sketchiest of instruction to prepare her 
for her audition — to the Royal Academy, training ground 
for Swedish actors for two centuries. At the end of her first 
term, the academy, responding to a call from Mauritz Stiller, 
Sweden's leading film director and, with Victor Seastrom, 
the creator of that nation's excellent reputation for trend- 
setting art films, selected Greta and another student to audi- 
tion for parts in Gosta Berling's Saga. 

It is at this point that complexity enters the life of Greta 
Gustafsson. Against everyone's advice, Stiller gave her the 
second lead in that film. She was at the time shy, gawky, 
both chubby and cherubic in appearance, but, possessing a 
certain freshness of appeal which, while hardly notable, was 
suitable for her part. Much more important, however, was a 
passivity, a willingness to be molded, which fitted an ob- 
session of Stiller's. He was in the grip of a dream — to find a 
Galatea to whom he could play Pygmalion. 

Like so many film directors of the era, Stiller had an 
imperious ego, a desire to play (and a certain talent for) 
the part of the cinematic master builder, the universal filmic 
genius. Before finding young Greta Gustafsson, he had told 

82 



flHr **.» 









%r 





Garbo as Mata Hari. 



friends of the ideal woman he was seeking — -"supersensual, 
spiritual, mystic." If ever he could find such a person he 
would mold her into the greatest star of all time — a woman 
who could personify all women, or at least the romanticized 
and idealized woman whom artists had been celebrating for 
centuries. She would be, as he described her to a friend, 
"sophisticated, scornful, superior, but under the shining sur- 
face humanely warm and womanly." He also thought that 
she should be able to create, at least subliminally, an aura 
of enigmatic soulfulness. Long before he found the girl of 
his dream he had, with the aid of an assistant, concocted 
a name by which the world would know her. The name he 
chose was Garbo. 

On the Gosta Berling set everyone wondered why Stiller 
was troubling so much with his new actress. Only a few 
realized that he had at last found the woman of his fantasies. 
A woman who worked at Svensk Filmindustri at the time 
recalled the making of a star for John Bainbridge, Garbo's 
best biographer. "She was really very attractive, especially 
her figure. That is what attracted people in Sweden, not her 
face. I can still see Stiller and that young girl — forever walk- 
ing up and down, up and down, in the shade of that little 
grove just outside the studio. Stiller was always teaching and 
preaching, Greta solemnly listening and learning. I never 
saw anyone more earnest and eager to learn. With that 
hypnotic power he seemed to have over her, he could make 
her do extraordinary things. But we had little idea then that 
he was making over her very soul." 

Perhaps the last sentence is hyperbolic, but the essence 
of the reminiscence is true. What followed is well enough 
recorded. After Saga was finished, she appeared under 
Stiller 's direction in the German-financed Street of Sorrows; 
and Hollywood, in thrall to the new movie style being 
created on the Continent, hired Stiller as it had earlier ob- 
tained the services of Seastrom. Stiller made a contract 
for Garbo a condition of his signing. Louis B. Mayer, nego- 
tiating the deal, solemnly told Miss Garbo, through an inter- 
preter, that she really ought to lose weight. "Tell her that in 
America men don't like fat women," he said. Garbo is re- 
ported to have smiled enigmatically at this advice. 

With Stiller, she arrived in America in 1925, and there 
was no special excitement about the occasion. In fact, 
M-G-M had no idea, now that they had the Swedes, what to 
do with them. Stiller never completed a picture for the 
studio, although he did a couple for rival companies with no 
success and eventually retreated to Sweden. Garbo's screen 
test did not impress Irving Thalberg, who had just come to 
Metro from Universal, and it required a set of still photos 
plus a new screen test to illuminate for him and his fellow 
moguls the elusive, magical and (to this day) undefinable 



quality she had. 

At any rate, they put her into Torrent, shocking and dis- 
appointing both Garbo and her mentor by not letting Stiller 
direct the film. The film, in retrospect, is quite poor fas 
indeed were all but a handful that Garbo made), but critics 
and public alike responded to the presence of the lady. Her 
second film, The Temptress, started under the direction of 
Stiller, but Fred Niblo, a handy hack, soon took over. This 
was the beginning of the end of Garbo's reliance on Stiller. 
In a very short time he would be back in Sweden, and the 
real building of the Garbo- legend, based on her noted reti- 
cence, would begin. 

This legend, let it be stated clearly, fit neatly with the 
somewhat mysterious screen presence of the star. The two 
fed each other. Nearly always, she was cast as a woman of 
mystery, somewhat somnambulistic, yet hinting at a promise 
of sexual adventure on a plane higher than ordinary people 
could even fantasy. Similarly, off screen, despite her man- 
nish clothes and her carelessness of appearance, she was 
enigmatic. No one knew exactly how she spent her time, 
although there were always hints of the most interesting sorts 
of suitors. No one knew any details of her life, except that 
she lived frugally (using only a couple of rooms in her large 
home, borrowing the butler's newspaper to save a nickel, 
owning so few clothes that she could travel all the way to 
Europe with just one suitcase) and in a manner totally dif- 
ferent from any other star. It may be that her ability to be 
different is one of the factors that account for the undying 
interest of intellectuals in her work. But, of course, there is 
more to the growth of the Garbo cult than that. 

Alistair Cooke, the movement's unofficial recording secre- 
tary, called her "every man's harmless fantasy mistress. By 
being worshiped by the entire world she gave you the feel- 
ing that if your imagination has to sin, it can at least con- 
gratulate itself on its impeccable taste." Others called her 
"the supreme symbol of inscrutable tragedy." Still others 
"a super-human symbol of The Other Woman." Kenneth 
Tynan, writing long after Garbo's active career had ended, 
put it this way: 

"What, when drunk, one sees in other women, one sees 
in Garbo sober. She is woman apprehended with all the 
pulsating clarity of one of Aldous Huxley's mescalin jags. 
To watch her is to achieve direct, cleansed perception of 
something which, like a flower or a fold of silk, is raptly. 
unassertively, and beautifully itself. . . . Tranced by the 
ecstasy of existing, she gives to each onlooker what he needs: 
her largesse is intarissable. . . . Fame, by insulating her 
against a multitude of experiences which we take for granted, 
has increased rather than diminished her capacity for 
wonder." 



85 




The transformation of Ninotchka: Before Melvyn Douglas shows her the delights of Western materialism 




and after. Garbo laughs, completing the parody of what she had been. 



Of all the attempts to explain the curious hold which 
Garbo has over the imagination of men, Tynan's is the best. 
He accepts her for exactly what she is — the ultimate movie 
star, a beautiful object to be admired and to be invested, like 
any work of art, with whatever private meanings we care to 
give her. The nature of our relationship to the stars having 
changed over the years since the screen began to talk,, our 
admiration for her is, in a sense, atavistic. It is based on the 
fact that after speaking from the screen, she imposed upon 
herself, after the last movie {Two-Faced Woman, 1941), 
silence — a silence she has never broken. She was a goddess 
who became technologically unemployed and, rather than 
face life and a career as a merely mortal star of the new sort, 
she chose to preserve her mythic quality, which, of course, 
in our notably noisy society, means a form of isolation. 



This is not to imply that Garbo's decision was an unnatu- 
ral one, a perverse yet effective way of maintaining her place 
in the public eye. It is widely believed that Garbo is a trifle 
strange in her desire for privacy, but it is strange only in i 
the context of the public life to which her fellow stars have 
acquiesced. "I never said T want to be alone,' " she said one 
time, "I only said T want to be let alone.' There is all the 
difference." How many stars have insisted on this point in 
interviews. How few of them could stand it if, suddenly, they 
were indeed let alone. It is in fundamental contradiction to 
the needs of the average performer's ego. But Miss Garbo's 
personality as a performer having been constructed for her, 
mainly by Stiller, there is a certain logic in her falling back 
upon a cultural value — privacy — highly prized in her native 
land, especially in her class. 



86 



Miss Garbo is, apparently, as sturdy an individual, as 
ruggedly self-sufficient, as any of the five generations of rural, 
small-landholding Gustafssons who preceded her. She con- 
tinues to have friends, is apparently at ease socially if no one 
refers to her life as an actress. She is fond of small antique 
shops, of an occasional afternoon at the movies, of un- 
announced visits to friends. She is, finally, one of the last 
devotees of that totally engaging activity, walking the streets 
of the city, observing its endlessly fascinating life. "Some- 
times, I put on my coat at ten in the morning and go out and 
follow people," she said once. "I just go where they're going. 
I mill around." Oddly, and perhaps a little too crudely, one 
could say that like any successful person Garbo has achieved, 
by dint of hard work, even perseverance, a style of life which 
suits her. 

What is left for a new generation is an attempt to under- 
stand precisely what she represented on the screen. Here 
Parker Tyler, in his brilliant, forgotten book, The Holly- 
wood Hallucination, is a help. "Frigidity in a woman of 
beauty or charm is a direct challenge to male sexual vanity. 
Garbo's peculiar art has always been to say in essence to the 
male audience: 'Don't forget that I am only an image, and 
that is all I can be to you.' " So, beside Tynan's idea of the 
beautiful somnambule so enigmatic that she can be all things 
to all men (and women and children, as the script of one of 
her films has her say ) , one must set another, simpler image. 
At certain moments "her orthodox defenses are down, her 
will against seduction seems to melt, at last all her conscious, 
instinctive reluctance disappears. ... A few moments of 
pantomime rehearse the basic natural drama of sexually 
uneducated women and sexually educating man." 

In the eleven years during which she spoke, her power at 
the box office slowly diminished. The more she spoke the 
less enigmatic she became. Because of her hold on the imagi- 
nation, her decline was slower than that of the other silent 
stars, but in the end her studio tried two desperate — and 
stupid — expedients. First they put her in Ninotchka, in 
which she, in effect, played her real self for the first time — 
distant, reserved, yet capable of warmth when correctly 
approached. In this film Melvyn Douglas, playing a perfect 
American type, finally accomplished what all others had 
failed to do — the sexual initiation of The Woman into 
American-type love making. Garbo had been taken before, 
but never cheerfully or without devastating consequences. 
Her fantasy value was destroyed. In the disastrous Two- 



Faced Woman which followed, Garbo, now fully American- 
ized, was made to indulge in the kind of "cute" sex farce 
all too familiar to the moviegoer. 

A Metro executive once remarked, wonderingly, "Garbo 
was the only one we could kill off, . . . the women seemed 
to enjoy watching Garbo die." But, of course. It was the 
very essence of her screen nature that, through death or 
distance, she remained beyond ordinary sexuality. Her films, 
until the end, were the retelling of incidents, brief encoun- 
ters, in which the male temporarily penetrated her masklike 
beauty, made her react like a real woman, for which crime 
common form demanded punishment. To wantonly disturb 
this pattern was an aesthetic crime. There is reason to be- 
lieve that Garbo knows her career was mismanaged, and that 
from time to time the knowledge still disturbs her. 



The star as recluse: "Her life is ... a file of 
newspaper pictures catching her aghast . . . on the 
gangplanks of ships or the stairways to planes." 




THE 



PART THREE 



COMEDIANS 




Buster Keaton in a moment of classic American folk art. 



While the rest of the motion-picture industry was turn- 
ing out "art" that, in the final analysis, was utter nonsense, 
the comedians of the silent screen were creating nonsense 
that has now come to be recognized as genuine art. An 
entire, intelligent school of thought about popular culture 
has built a critical theory out of the truism that mass culture 
succeeds best precisely when it tries least. The best example 
they can cite is the work of the silent comics. 

The comedians had few illusions about the nature of their 
work. They simply sought laughter and they did so in an 
interesting variety of ways, expressing a great deal of them- 
selves in the course of this pursuit. The common element in 



the style of the silent comics was, to use the word another 
way, commonness. They were rude, vulgar, rowdy, and ex- 
tremely fast-moving operatives, for, if they had slowed down, 
giving the audience a chance to think, the joke might well 
have collapsed. 

There are parallels to their work in the history of literary 
comedy in America, the main stream of which tends to be 
picaresque, grotesque and physical rather than intellectual in 
its humor. There are also parallels in the history of theatrical 
comedy. But it is perhaps enough to say of the humor prac- 
ticed by the silent comedians that it was the product of a 
fortuitous coincidence of talent, time and medium, and that 
its practitioners are sorely missed today. 

89 





91 



CHAPLIN 




Tillie's Punctured Romance, Marie Dressier playing the title role. 

"Oh well, he was just the greatest, that's all," said Mack 
Sennett of Charles Spencer Chaplin, and there is no disput- 
ing the fact. Chaplin came to the movies as a very young 
man, after a dismal life in England, where he had toured 
with his parents, who were low-class music hall performers, 
and had spent a good deal of time in an orphanage. His first 
success — and it was modest enough — came when he joined 
the Karno Comedy Company at seventeen. He played sec- 
ondary parts but one of his routines, involving a tangle with 
a dog, was a success both in English and Continental music 
halls. He came to America with Karno's touring company 
and played three years with it before Sennet discovered him. 
At that time he was casting about for someone as a stand-by 
for his biggest star, Mack Swain, who was beginning to 
make heavy salary demands. Chaplin hesitated to leave the 
security of his job with Karno, where he was earning fifty 
dollars a week, and it was not until Sennett tripled that 
amount that he signed. At first he was lost among the rowdy 
Keystone clowns. His work is based, of course, on a deli- 
cate, almost balletic kind of pantomime, and on the Key- 



stone lot it was widely belie-ved that Chaplin was one of 
Sennett's mistakes. 

It was Sennett's thrifty habit to borrow action for his films 
wherever he could, and so, one day he sent a crew and cast 
out to nearby Venice to improvise a comedy around some 
children's auto races. There Chaplin came into his own. He 
remembered a bit he had done when, working as a janitor in 
a London music hall, he had been pressed into service as a 
replacement for an ailing comedian. He had donned the huge 
comic's clothing and had tripped and stumbled through a 
routine that became a feature on the bill. 

Now, on the day that The Kid Auto Races at Venice was 
filmed, he borrowed a pair of pants from Fatty Arbuckle, 
some equally outlandish shoes from Ford Sterling, a fake 
mustache from Swain, fell into the shuffling gait of an aged 
peddler he had seen in England and the outward aspect of 
his "Little Fellow" was presented on the screen for the first 
time. As for the inner fire of his creation — that incurable 
optimism in the face of disaster — that was pure Chaplin. 
"You have to believe in yourself, that's the secret," he once 
told one of his sons. "Even when I was in the orphanage, 
when I was roaming the streets trying to find enough to eat 
to keep alive, even then I thought of myself as the greatest 
actor in the world. I had to feel that exuberance that comes 
from utter confidence in yourself. Without it you go down 
to defeat." 

Within three months of filming The Kid Auto Races he 
was directing his own films for Sennett, the only way he felt 
he could protect the Little Fellow. Even so, he chafed at the 
demands placed on him by Sennett's implacable production 
schedule. When another studio offered him more time to 
work on his films, as well as more money, he moved on. In 
1916 he was offered a $670,000-a-year contract and made a 
tumultuous journey to New York to sign it. Wherever the 
train stopped, Chaplin was mobbed; in New York he was 
greeted like a conquering hero. He was Everyman, raised 
to the nth power. "I was loved by crowds," he later recalled, 
"but I didn't have a single close friend ... I felt like the 
loneliest man alive." A year later he signed a contract 
which called for a million dollars a year in salary. 



92 



Chaplin in Carmen. 




^ 



All 

the 

ills 

of 
man... 




With Jackie Coogan in The Kid. 




. . . childre: 



With Paulette Goddard, then his wife, in The Great Dictator. 
94 



women . . . 




The Great Dictator 




tyranny. . . 



age 



and... 



The old vaudevillian of Limelight. 



. . .war 




Loneliness and wealth remained constants in the troubled 
private life of Charles Chaplin. Yet his screen self, the Little 
Fellow, remained unchanged through the twenties; and, 
when sound came in, Chaplin managed to cling successfully 
to silence, producing two films, City Lights and Modern 
Times, which had sound tracks but no spoken dialogue. 
After that, however, it became impossible to retain the 
characterization with which by this time he, the actor, was 
inextricably entwined, both through art and the public's 
wish. For fifteen years the pictures had been appearing less 
and less frequently. Now, in the thirties, they ceased alto- 
gether as Chaplin turned to preparation for The Great 
Dictator. The picture, of course, contained scenes involving 
the Little Fellow, but it was not primarily his picture, and 
he has not reappeared in the three films Chaplin has 
since made. 

It was society, not Chaplin, who killed off the beloved 
character. Robert Warshow shrewdly suggests that until 
the cataclysmic thirties the relationship between the tramp 
and the rest of the world was an innocent one. That is, they 
did not totally understand each other and they came into 
accidental conflict that was hilarious, but which had no 
serious moral tow. There was no viciousness in these con- 
flicts, and if there was any message in the comedy it was 
simply, "live and let live." 

But as fascism rose in Europe and as depression spread 
in America, it began to seem that there could no longer be 
any innocent conflict between the individual and his so- 
ciety. In both Modern Times and The Great Dictator the 
society through which the Little Fellow moves is actively 
malevolent; it is no longer attempting to persuade him into 
conformity, it is bent on destroying him. No longer can he 
shrug, adjust his pitiful raiment about him and set off 
down the road. The open dusty road itself is suddenly a 
superhighway and there is no place on it for The Tramp 
and his love of freedom. Chaplin seemed to lose faith in 
him as a symbol just as, coincidentally, the actor operating 
as an individualist on a slightly different plane entered upon 
the sea of troubles — legal, political and tax — that led to 
his embittered exile in Switzerland where he still lives. 



Chaplin in two wars : A bove, at the 
height of his power in Shoulder Arms, 
the lighthearted satire of World War I. 



96 




>¥■* *r' 



f~~ 



r. 






*m 



Last of the Little Fellow: Chaplin donned the familiar 
costume for a few scenes in The Great Dictator, but the 
world had grown too malevolent for The Tramp to survive. 



97 




98 



BUSTER KEATON 



As Chaplin came to think of himself as an artist his films 
tended to take on a slower pace, their subsidiary characters 
a greater subtlety. Worse, as he began to lose faith in the 
applicability of the truth for which the Little Fellow stood, 
his films replaced their hard gleam of honesty with the softer 
glow of sentimentality. In Buster Keaton's work there was 
no slowness, subtlety or sentiment. Instead there was fan- 
tastic emphasis on high-speed timing; the inventiveness of 
his gags, which had the maniac precision of some infernal 
machine, are unsurpassed in film history. As for his char- 
acter, it had no depth at all. It had no background, no dis- 
cernible major goals and, therefore, no emotion. 

Keaton, of course, is famous for his utterly dead pan. 
His face was a mask, hiding all emotion. The miracle was 
that no matter how his seemingly delicate person was as- 
saulted he never cracked. He always pressed sternly for- 
ward, intent on just one thing — victory over the forces 
which, inexplicably had been loosed upon him. He was, in 
short, a comedian with precisely one joke in his repertory, 
that being his uncanny ability to take it without registering 
so much as surprise, let alone discouragement or disappoint- 
ment with his peculiar lot. Within this arbitrary limit, how- 
ever, he was marvelously inventive. One disaster led to an- 
other which in turn led to yet another still more horrid, all 
in a matter of seconds. We wait suspensefully for him to 
weep or to smile or to beg for mercy, yet he never does. He 
merely plods on until, at last, threatened man and machines 
suddenly give up their vain assault upon him, and he 
emerges victorious, disdaining even the victor's smile of 
triumph. 

Keaton wins out for but one reason — his absolute un- 
shakability. The uses of the deadpan at last become clear. 
It is the reverse of the petty salesman's mask against disaster 
— the fixed smile and false heartiness. As long as Keaton 
retained his expressionless aplomb he could not be reached. 
Had he once revealed emotion he would have presented 
his enemies with a chink through which they would have de- 
stroyed him. The result was a certain coldness in his screen 
character. But perhaps coldness — combined with determina- 
tion — is the best means of survival in this world. 



Buster Keaton finds himself in a typical contretemps in The 
Three Ages of Man, the inevitable result of sailing alone. 




Plodding, implacable, he follows the antique adage, 
Go West, Young Man. 



99 




Episodes in the short, unhappy screen life of Harry 
Langdon, who had an uncanny, fluttery ability to 
parody a child's panic at encountering the unknown. 



The curious incident of the bicycle, in Long Pants. 

The face Harry Langdon presented to disaster was total- 
ly different from Keaton's. It was, as Agee suggests, that I 
of an infant — and a rather unhealthy one at that — per- 
manently arrested in the premoral stage. There was no calm- 
ness here only ill-concealed panic. He was the master of 1 
the panidky flutter when confronted, as he constantly was, ' 
by danger. The point about Langdon, who sometimes rose 
to heights of almost surrealist madness his contemporaries '; 
never attempted, was that, in direct opposition to Keaton, 
he was totally incompetent physically as well as mentally ' 
and morally. Not knowing right from wrong he would try 



100 






Al**** 



*■. ■*-»» 




The Chaser. The hat, the uniform, the strange situation 
of the young lady are all equally inexplicable, especially 
to Langdon, who could never figure anything out. 



TARRY LANGDON 



nything to extricate himself from his difficulties. Having 
'ot even the intelligence of an adolescent, he invariably 
hose the wrong course of action. He was the reductio ad 
bsurdum of humanity. Indeed, in his tiny hat with its up- 
jrned brim and in his oddly cut clothing, he seemed not 
p be human at all, but rather a fugitive from some back- 
r ard planet placed on this earth and told to survive in the 
est possible way. 

Langdon's director and chief screen mentor, Frank Capra, 
ummed up the guiding principle a Langdon's comedy by 
aying, "His only ally was God. Langdon might be saved 



by the brick falling on the cop, but it was verboten that 
he in any way motivate the brick's fall." His competitors 
always extricated themselves from their troubles through 
their own devices, he never did. 

Characteristically, Langdon messed up his own career. 
He quickly grew pretentious, began listening to various 
high-brow theorists who attached themselves to this strange, 
simple ex-vaudevillian, and his major work was finished in 
a few short years. He retreated to the two-reelers whence he 
had sprung, and he died broke in 1944. 



101 






m 




Why Worry? The Giant is real; so is Harold Lloyd's problem. 

HAROLD LLOYD 





.,--*■' 



Harold Lloyd was the most popular comedian of his 
time, and it is said that, all told, his films grossed over thirty 
million dollars. He was the least enigmatic of the great 
clowns, always portraying an eager-to-please, frightfully 
optimistic lad whose misfortune it was to believe the Hora- 
tio Alger legend. He was open, cheerful, optimistic, and it 
is no wonder that he was so well-loved in an America that 
believed, as never before or since, in the success ethic which 
motivated his character — and which he gently satirized. 

Lloyd himself was a devoted Shriner and an exemplary 
member of the middle-class community. Of all his contempo- 
raries, he was the only one who simply quit the screen when 
sound came in, passing his premature retirement in pleasant 
and profitable non-theatrical pursuits. 

In his time he had no peer in the construction of a beautiful 
string of physically perilous sight-gags which left the viewer 
limp not merely from laughter but from honest fear for the 
funnyman's safety. And, as Harold Lloyd's World of Comedy 
has lately proved, his appeal is ageless. 



102 



Safety Last. One of the supreme moments of silent comedy. 



^-^MMMtyi 






/ 



/- 




THE 
MARX 
BROTHERS 



Comedy did not die when the screen began to talk. Rather, 
certain marvelous comedians found that either they could 
not talk successfully or that talking deflected the trajectory 
of their humor, preventing it from reaching the hysteric 
heights it had once obtained. In due course, screen humor 
would become almost exclusively a matter of situation 
comedies, some of them quite good, but all of them the 
product of ensemble playing by comic actors, rather than 
the highly individualistic work of pure comedians. Before 
this happened, however, screen comedy was to be graced 
by a group of magnificent anarchists called the Marx Broth- 
ers and a nonpareil known as W. C. Fields. 

The Marxes had been invented by their mother, Minnie, 
and had straggled up from the lower echelons of vaudeville 
to the Broadway stage. They came to Hollywood, shortly 
after the coming of sound, to re-create their stage hits, two 
of which, Animal Crackers and Duck Soup, proved to be 
delicious screen fare. They stayed on to make a succession 
of movies which, if never totally satisfying, invariably con- 
tained sequences of lovely, awesome madness. 

The root of Marxism lay in the conflict of the Brothers 
with their setting. They appeared always as interlopers in 
a place of power or, at least, high fashion (at a house party; 
in the cabinet of a mythical kingdom of which Groucho was 
inexplicably the prime minister; at the opera; at a Saratoga- 
like spa). Once established, they immediately started to de- 
stroy their milieu. Theirs was the maniac humor of nihilism. 

They were natural men, unhindered by those notions of 
good taste and proper behavior which so inhibit the world 
of the bourgeoisie. Immediately upon arrival, Groucho 
would establish (a) that he wished to steal a great deal of 
money by means of a complex confidence scheme; and (b) 
his love-hate relationship with Grande Dame Margaret 
Dumont. His technique for interpersonal relations was always 




104 




The Marx Brothers Go West, the hard way of coarse. As Harpo 
provides a bridge between cars, he and his brothers provided a bridge 
between silent comedy and the new style required by sound. 




Three Wise Fools was the apt title of this late Marx Brothers jape. 



the same — insult upon insult. The upshot was a characteriza- 
tion in which hatred for the conventional was so immense 
that he could not forbear his insults even if they placed his 
economic goals in jeopardy. 

Groucho stood at the center of the Marxian plot; it was 
he who set all the wheels to spinning madly. His brothers 
worked a series of inventive variations on the basic melodic 
line he established. Periodically a comely blonde, in a state 
of dishabille, would scamper through, Harpo, horn tooting 
madly, tiny eyes aglitter, in hot pursuit. His silence dis- 
guised the fact that he was completely amoral. Outside, 
his relationship to the great scheme of things unclear, was 
Chico in his pointy hat, his Italian accent a bar to the world 



of fashion, busily pursuing a more modest form of crooked- 
ness than Groucho's. Unlike Groucho, he hid his aggressions 
and, in the end, displayed more shrewdness than the self- 
proclaimed mastermind. Usually, in desperation, Groucho 
would have to enlist Chico's aid to make things come out 
all right. The end always came suddenly in a Marx Brothers 
movie — as if they suddenly tired of it and decided to end 
the nonsense as quickly as possible. 

As a team, they were the perfect bridge between silent 
comedy and sound. Harpo, of course, was the last of the 
great pantomimists, his special forte being direct action. 
In a moment of peril he could be relied upon to bring forth 
from his capacious coat pockets some tool or gadget with 



106 



which to save the day — a pair of scissors, say, for cutting the 
phone line over which his enemies were relaying their plans. 
Groucho was, conversely, among the first of the fast-talking 
masters of insult, setting a style that was to be the accepted 
standard among the radio comics of the thirties and forties. 
Chico, of course, was a dialect comedian familiar to the 
vaudeville of a slightly earlier time. 

Between them, the Marx Brothers represented all the 
great American comedy styles. Together they transcended 
all style to answer a felt national need — the utter denigra- 
tion of upper-class values, values which were widely believed 
to have caused all the troubles of the decade in which the 
Marx Brothers achieved their great popularity. 



Groucho and Margaret Dumont, in a moment typical 
of their love-hate relationship. 

Miss Dumont, for whom one critic proposed a monument 
for her unflinching service to comedy, was absolutely 
essential to a classic Marx Brothers comedy. Indeed, 
she was practically a member of the family. 





108 




W C. FIELDS 



W . C. Fields and Mae West, who, off screen, found him rather 
vulgar, in one of the screens great confrontations. The film 
is, of course, My Little Chickadee, Fields' last truly memorable 
screen portrayal. Right, as he appeared in If I Had a Million. 



Thorstein Veblen once defined the chief motivations of 
the small American businessman as "self-help and cupidity." 
No one more perfectly portrayed this character than W. C. 
Fields. Prickly guardian of a few pitiful possessions (the 
contents of a moribund grocery or drugstore, a sad auto- 
mobile of uncertain vintage, a flat barely evading classifica- 
tion as a slum ) , sour protector of the virtue of a family 
unit which he loathes and which unmercifully deflates his 
every attempt at dignity, nourisher of some hopeless dream 
of power and wealth, endless inventor of a past infinitely 
more appealing than the present, Fields was, par excellence, 
the lumpen bourgeois at bay. One was always certain that, 
just off screen, the minions of the chain stores were con- 
structing a supermarket that would reduce him to penury. 

His scratchy drawl, speaking the pompous cliches which 
were his sole defense against the intrusive world, was the 
essence of the man, whining, cajoling, offering empty 





There is some confusion about hats, but not about common goals. 



threats against his enemies, most of whom — and this is the 
cream of the Fieldsian jest — were scarcely aware of his 
bulbous existence. If only they would pay heed to him, 
even as they flattened him, he might have been able to 
bear his fate. Alas, their eyes were on the stars and his were 
fixed firmly on the petty discomforts of existence. 

Fields had to wait for a means to be found to reproduce 
that inimitable voice of his and so, although a stage star 
of great repute he did not come to movies until they began 
to talk. Happily, that coincided with the opening of a great 
rent in the American dream. At last the world was ready to 
hear his peculiar version of the frustrations, anxieties, night- 
mares, crotchets and desperations of those members of the 
lower orders who insisted on having big-time (or Republican) 
beliefs on small-time, small town (or Democratic) budgets. 

Because of the lamentable gap between his dreams and 
his reality, Fields was possessed of an abiding, simmering 
anger which, since he was powerless to vent it on his true 
tormentors, he turned against small children, cripples, idiots 
and others so low in life as to be beneath his paltry station. 
Toward his legion of superiors he turned' a face that was 
both anxiously obsequious and incurably sly. Even as he 
smiled his false smile and rubbed together his hammy hands, 



he was, you could see, planning some small meanness, some 
sad confidence trick which he knew to be insignificant as 
protest but which he felt compelled to place on the record. 

All of this sprang from the depths of Fields' own being. 
His childhood, like that of so many great comics, was one 
of almost unbearable hardship, and he himself suffered the 
slings of the mighty and the petty wretchednesses of their 
small-minded fellow-travelers, the cops, clerks and cretins 
who plague all whose dreams exceed their purses and their 
powers. He passed his life, even at the height of his fame, in 
constant warfare with them. 

Like the Marx Brothers, Fields never once attempted to 
enlist our sympathy. He remained a cruel comedian, un- 
doubtedly sensing that, as his excellent biographer, Robert 
Lewis Taylor, notes, "Most people harbor a secret affection, 
for anyone with a low opinion of humanity." A man's man 
and a man's comedian, his style owed much to the atmos- 
phere of the barrooms and pool halls, which were the natural 
habitat — and last refuge — of the marginal man he portrayed. 
As they have disappeared from the land, so has appreciation 
for the humor of W. C. Fields, who in a glorious final out- 
burst of the American screen comedian's art, held a wickedly 
distorting mirror up to a comically dreadful aspect of life. 



110 



THE MOUSE 







Gulliver Mickey. 



In 1938, when the aestheticians of the film had gathered 
Walt Disney and his animated anthropomorphs to their 
bosoms, a critic wrote: "If Charlie Chaplin's pathetic 'little 
guy' was the symbol of the last 20 years of social confusion, 
Walt Disney's animated fables may well supply the key to 
our progress during the next 20 years." How right he was! 
Given the prevailing aesthetic of movies, that motion was 
more important than drama or character (a fundamentally 
anti-humanist notion), Mickey and friends were the answer 
to a prayer. Easily integrating color and sound (two factors 
widely believed to be anti-cinematic ) into work in which 
pantomime remained supreme and dialogue minimal, Disney 
was regarded as a movie craftsman the equal of Griffith or 
Eisenstein. Mickey, optimistic, a direct-actionist who op- 
posed violence with violence, fighting bravely for self and 
ideals in a way heartily approved by a leftist-oriented na- 
tion, was more popular than any living comedian of the 
time. His creator gave out interviews extolling the virtues 
of experiment and decrying commercialism. 

Alas for hopes and ideals! Disney became big business, 
his Mouse shrank in importance as the studio bent its best 
efforts to the elaborate and curiously flat feature-length re- 
tellings of popular childhood stories (Snow White, Pinocchio, 



Bambi), then to the quasi-educational true-life adventures, 
finally to those dismal live-action comedies to which the 
entire family may safely repair. 

The end of the Disney road, a promising one when it 
began in 1928, is Disneyland, that sterilized carnival which, 
lacking the lusty amusements of the old-fashioned midway, 
pretends educational value in order to painlessly extract 
money from parents gripped by the sentimental notion that 
education (and reality) must be sugar-coated for the child's 
benefit. The first Disney cartoons would today be judged 
too violent for young eyes. Intended as a reflection of a world 
in a state of upheaval, their exuberant ferocity reflected a 
delightfully savage comedic sense not unlike that demon- 
strated in some of the more popular childhood games. 

When Disney ceased to appeal directly to the child's in- 
nocent love of violent action (and thereby to the child in 
all of u"s) and started pandering to the adult's notions of 
what a child should like, he lost his claim to an artist's 
stature. The trouble was that in the first flush of his enor- 
mous popularity he swept all comic competition before 
him and became the sole trustee of the low-comedy tradi- 
tion. It is this which he sold out in the children's market — 
bringing to an end a great, but short-lived, screen tradition. 



Ill 



THE 



PART FOUR 



THIRTIES 



Sound was introduced to the movies in 1927, not in features 
but in a series of newsreels and short subjects. Its first great 
success was in a film about Lindbergh's return to America 
after his historic flight. Despite the great box-office appeal 
of this little picture, the important studios continued to re- 
gard sound merely as an interesting novelty. One or two of 
them experimented with musical accompaniment and sound 
effects in their superproductions ( The Big Parade and Wings 
were among them ) , but it remained for a minor studio, 
Warner Brothers, to take the big gamble. They produced 
The Jazz Singer, basically a silent film in which, from time 
to time, Al Jolson opened his mouth to sing and, lo, song 
seemed to issue from his mouth. 

It was an almost insufferable movie, the sentimental story 
of a cantor's son from New York's Lower East Side who 
refuses to follow in his father's footsteps and insists on 
becoming a musical-comedy singer on Broadway. People 
came, they listened, and they were conquered. Warner's 
quickly followed with an a//-talking film, Lights of New York, 
another banal musical, in which, in its first crude form, that 
long-term staple, the backstage story of the kid waiting for 
the first break, had its trial run. The studio's next effort, 
The Terror, dispensed with the main title and credits; 
Mr. Conrad Nagel, of the gorgeous voice, decked out in mask 
and opera cape, delivered this information to the audience. 

By 1929 Variety was reporting that "sound didn't do any 
more to the industry than turn it upside down, shake the 
entire bag of tricks from its pocket and advance Warner 
Brothers from the last place to first in the league." Sound 



was, in short, a total revolution — it changed the techniques 
of making films, radically altered their content, changed the 
nature of the typical star personality and altered the financial 
balance of power in Hollywood. 

As to technique, the most important immediate effect of 
the revolution was regressive. The camera, which had grown 
progressively freer since the days when Griffith first liberated 
it, suddenly became static, a merely passive observer and re- 
corder of action. Since its whirrings could be picked up by 
the microphone, it had to be enclosed in a soundproof booth, 
which effectively immobilized it. Temporarily it became 
necessary to use as many as three cameras to give the di- 
rector and editor a variety of shots to which the sound track 
could later be synchronized. The suddenly cumbersome 
camera simply could not be moved. In the first two years of 
sound it was recording virtually nothing of interest anyway. 
The movies tended to be either closet dramas with no scope 
and less interest than a stage play, or huge musicals in which 
Rockette-style choreography was featured as a kind of ac- 
companiment to the blaring sound track. 

From film critics and scholars there arose a terrible clamor. 
The movies, they cried, were finished as an art form, and it 
is certainly true that the carefully composed aesthetic of the 
silent film was suddenly in need of amendment. It had been 
based on the fact that, like all the fine arts, the movies in- 
herently lacked one of the dimensions of total reality. The 
theory was that in this art, as in painting, music and poetry, 
the lack, far from being a handicap, was actually a useful 
limitation, imposing on the artist an artificial barrier which, 



113 




A new era begins: Al Jolson cried out for Mammy 
and an entire nation cried out for sound. 



through illusion, he had to render insignificant. The best 
silent films (most of which were not made in America) did, 
indeed, by their concentration on imagery and movement, 
achieve great force by the strength with which they worked 
within the ljmits of the sound barrier. They had a poetry all 
their own and, for the initiate, a special kind of magic, not 
unlike that which abstract expressionism has for its followers 
today. 

But, to be realistic about it, silence encouraged in the 
commercial film medium a kind of banal and overlush roman- 
ticism which was neither artistically good nor socially useful. 
The American films of the twenties — always excepting the 
comedies — were trash on the lowest possible level. In the 
thirties films, thanks to sound, became trash on a somewhat 
higher level. They were prey, it is true, to propagandists who, 
however sincere their beliefs, managed to muck up, with their 
busy rakes, some potentially amusing films. If you believe, 
as this writer emphatically does not, that the movie version 
of life has a deleterious effect on the impressionable, then 
you could say that sound films represented a much more 
internal — and therefore more effective — misrepresentation 
of reality than did silent movies. They had an insidious feel- 
ing of reality about them, but not, on close examination, the 
ring of truth. 

On the other hand, they had certain distinct advantages. 
Once the initial outburst of banal musicals and dreary soap 
operas (which seemed always to star Constance Bennett) had 
somewhat subsided, interesting new genres began to appear. 
First and foremost, there were the crime films, studies in 
corrupt power that, by analogy, made strong statements 
about flaws in the structure of American society. There were 
films that, at long last, dared to tackle social problems and 
which, however oversimplified their messages, however naive 
they may seem to us today, represented a new seriousness 



in movies. The same may be said of the biographical films 
(frequently starring Paul Muni) and the generally ill-starred 
efforts to translate literary masterpieces to the screen. The 
medium, finally, had the technical means, if not the required 
skills, to adapt from the form it most closely resembles — the 
novel. 

The efforts to use sound with greater subtlety, to use it 
not merely as a novelty but as a force for greater reality 
in pictures, bore scattered early fruit — in Lewis Milestone's 
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), in William Well- 
man's savage Public Enemy (1931), in / Am a Fugitive 
from a Chain Gang ( 1932 ) , not to mention the sophisticated 
comedies of Ernst Lubitsch. These films helped free Holly- 
wood from the sudden tyranny of the sound technicians, 
whose overriding concern was good recording with their 
crude equipment, and who had briefly supplanted the director 
as the most important man on the set. The result had been 
fearful cinematic stasis, a boredom to the eye; even the 
miracle of sound could not compensate for it. 

The better directors soon developed techniques to circum- 
vent the dictatorial microphone men. One was an insistence, 
in the face of front-office skepticism, that the audience did 
not have to hear every sound of life, every footstep, every dis- 
tracting background noise. Their fight was not unlike that of 
Griffith who had found his backers wary of "foisting half an 
actor on the public," when he insisted on using close-ups and 
medium shots in the construction of his films. Directors began 
shooting action sequences with the mobile silent camera, then 
dubbing the sound track later. Others insisted on the use of 
more microphones and the subsequent mixing of their sep- 
arate tracks in the laboratory. 

All of this had the effect of mobilizing the microphone, 
the limited range of which had tied the camera to movement 
no greater than the range of a mike's "hearing." Finally, the 
sound men themselves improved their equipment and quickly 
found ways to get the camera out of its isolation booth 
or padded cell. By 1940 the camera had regained all of 
its old mobility. The films gained a feeling of reality, an 
ability to deal with ideas, a greater capacity for subtle 
characterization. 

It is irrelevant to discuss what American movies might 
have been had not the coming of sound set them firmly on 
a course toward realism. But this much can be safely stated: 
the aesthetics of reality are the most simply grasped of all 
artistic standards. They were about all one could hope the 
men who control the American motion-picture industry 
might grasp. The men who worked for the moguls understood 



114 



this and, working on a production-line basis, managed to 
produce on the sly a great many strong films — sharp, bitter, 
unrelenting in their attention to detail. They were not flawless 
in technique, but, within their formulas, they made cogent 
cinematic statements about the nature of power in our soci- 
ety. Parenthetically, we can note that almost none of the 
highly praised, independently produced films of social com- 
mentary in our own time show the willingness to pursue ques- 
tions of human motivation to root social and economic causes 
that was demonstrated, particularly by Warner Brothers, in 
the thirties. 

Insistence on realism naturally had its effect on the star 
system. Weeded out immediately were the stars who could 
not speak at all. Recruited posthaste were stage actors who 
were widely believed to be able to speak beautifully. They, 
for the most part, did not succeed as well as the average kind 
of people who spoke — and behaved — with idiomatic natural- 
ness. Sound was not as hard on silent film actors as the new 



naturalistic style, as the career of John Gilbert indicates. 
Ramon Novarro, a second-string romancer of the silents, has 
said, "I was always the hero — with no vices — reciting prac- 
tically the same lines to the leading lady. . . . The current crop 
of movie heroes are less handicapped than the old ones. They 
are more human. The leading men of silent films were always 
Adonises and Apollos . . . Today the hero can even take a 
poke at the leading lady. In my time, a hero who hit the girl 
just once would have been out. . . ." 

The girls who were getting knocked around were a new 
breed, too. They were no longer virgin princesses but shop- 
girls, kept women, even prostitutes. They were frequently 
hard, mannish in dress and behavior, likely to have extremely 
realistic notions of their lot in life and of the society they 
inhabited. In short, once Hollywood had sorted out the im- 
plications of both the social revolution proceeding outside 
the studio gates and the technical revolution inside, it found 
that its stars must now walk among men. 




Man of the people: The film success of folksy Will Rogers 
could not have happened in the romantic silent era. 



115 



MAE WEST New deal for sex 




The face that launched a thousand protests. 

One day in 1932 Miss Mae West entered a night club, owned, 
for the purpose of a film script called Night After Night, by 
George Raft. She walked in her inimitable way across the 
foyer, casting a shrewdly appraising yet somehow humorous 
gaze over the scene, then wriggled past the hat-check girl. 
"Goodness, what beautiful diamonds," said that lady, un- 
knowingly participating in an immortal moment in film his- 
tory. "Goodness," replied Miss West, "had nothing to do 
with it, dearie." As the laughter built and built, Miss West 
proceeded to mount a set of stairs, a simple, everyday act 
which, when performed by the biggest blonde of them all, 
was a study in the vulgar poetry of motion. 

For the rest of the decade Miss West, an aging ex- 



vaudevillian, ex-Shubert star, sometime litterateuse (she 
wrote her own plays and often her own movie dialogue ) , was 
the screen's leading sex symbol. By 1936 she was being paid 
the second-highest salary in the United States. Only William 
Randolph Hearst, who didn't like her, made more. 

Mr. Hearst's opinion was shared by other moralists, and 
there is no doubt that Miss West's presence on the screen 
was an offense to a noisy minority — principally because she 
seemed to have so much fun being sexy. This attitude re- 
verses a basic tenet of American popular art which holds that 
while sex may be discussed in excruciating detail the tone of 
the talk must be serious, if not quasi-tragic. It is no matter 
for boffo laughter, although sniggering at "cute" (i.e., 
suggestive, and therefore dishonest ) bedroom farces may in 
certain circumstances be deemed acceptable. 

In any case, Miss West had a ball, as did most of her 
audience. It is said that her bawdy, straightforward approach 
to sex comedy was one of the chief reasons for the enactment, 
in 1933, of the Motion Picture Producers Association Code. 
For the first time, the Hays office seriously — and success- 
fully — attempted to regulate the content of films, excluding 
from them certain subjects (e.g., narcotics, sexual deviation), 
requiring the punishment of all transgressions of accepted 
moral standards and specifically legislating against all kinds 
of words, situations and suggestions (exposure of the inside 
of the female thigh, for instance, was verboten). Hollywood, 
by this time, was feeling the depression, which had not in 
its early years affected the sale of tickets. In the economic 
depths, however, people had finally begun to stay away from 
the dream palaces, and the threat of economic reprisal by 
moral-uplift pressure groups seriously frightened the indus- 
try, the moral tone of which generally follows the business 
cycle very closely. 

But if Mae West was a prime cause of the code, she also 
saved her studio, Paramount, from bankruptcy. Her pro- 
ducer, William LeBaron, testified: "In the middle of the 
depression, the Mae West pictures, She Done Him Wrong 
and I'm No Angel, broke/ box-office records all over the coun- 
try and all over the world. . . . She Done Him Wrong must 
be credited with having saved Paramount Studios at a time 
when the studio was considering selling out to M-G-M, and 



116 




Miss West doing exactly what everyone was afraid of — teaching the young. 



when Paramount theaters — seventeen hundred of them — 
thought of closing their doors and converting their theaters 
into office buildings." 

Basically, the appeal of Miss West was to reason. She took 
a sensibly mocking attitude toward our attitudes, both ro- 
mantic and repressive, about sex. She was utterly free of 
cant, living testimony that it was possible for a woman to 
have the same sexual needs and desires as a man. The humor 
came from the fact that she set about satisfying them with 
the same directness shown by a male on the prowl. In addi- 
tion, she was a parody mother, a parody showgirl and a 
parody Grande Dame. She was never, never so vulgar as to 



bump or grind. She merely implied these activities with a 
roll of the eyes, an intonation of her drawling voice. 

"No doubt," says the recondite Tyler Parker, "she ob- 
served the female impersonator and, spontaneously imitating 
him, extracted for herself all his comedy, leaving him his 
pathos. In effect, she expunged the burlesque quality from 
his active masquerade of the female sex." Scott Fitzgerald 
thought that of all the Hollywood stars she was "the only 
type with an ironic edge, a comic spark." And Hugh Wal- 
pole suggested that "only Charlie Chaplin and Mae West . . . 
dare to directly attack with their mockery the fraying morals 
and manners of a dreary world." 

117 




Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler and friends in an early Hollywood attempt at neorealism, Flirtation Walk, 1934. 





The Juvenile grown up, as tough Johnny O 'Clock, 1947. 

DICK POWELL 

New deal for song 



In 1944, when Dick Powell suddenly appeared as the 
screen incarnation of Philip Marlowe, Raymond Chandler's 
hard-boiled private eye, his performance exuded mature 
masculinity and a tired, semicynical awareness of the perils 
of life in the urban jungle. It was a startling portrayal, for 
Powell had come to the screen as a blandly boyish singer, 
pleasing enough when teamed with dancer Ruby Keeler in 
silly musicals but hardly the man to administer or absorb a 
beating from Mike Mazurki. 

The essence of Dick Powell had been that of the good- 
natured, slightly impractical Middle Western boy (which he 
was in real life) struggling to advance himself in show biz. 
He was usually discovered in an early reel pounding away 
at an upright piano, writing and singing unpublishable 
songs. By the end of the film, someone had propelled him — 
and Miss Keeler — to the top, he remaining a somewhat be- 
fuddled bystander at his own creation as a star. 

The virtue of his work was that it was unobtrusive, never 
interfering with the spectacle of hundreds of girls tap-danc- 
ing in unison. His skills as chief executive of his own career 
were demonstrated by his ability to endure years of this 
nonsense without failing in public esteem and by his shrewd 
switch to tough-guy roles at just the right time. From his 
second career much has followed, including presidency of 
his own TV production company — one of the busiest in 
Hollywood — and a TV series which he hosts. 



119 




EDWARD G 



Little Caesar before his rise to power 



Crime as business 

Warshow on the Gangster: "[He] is doomed because he 
is under the obligation to succeed, not because the means he 
employs are unlawful. In the deeper layers of the modern 
consciousness, all means are unlawful, every attempt to suc- 
ceed is an act of aggression, leaving one alone and guilty 
and defenseless among enemies: one is punished for success. 
This is our intolerable dilemma: that failure is a kind of 
death and success is evil and dangerous. . . . The effect of 
the gangster film is to embody this dilemma in the person 
of the gangster and resolve it by his death. ... it is his 
death, not ours. We are safe. . . ." 

Edward G. Robinson emphasized practical, cold-cash 
reasons for his depredations. For him, the machine gun repre- 
sented the extension of the business ethic by other means. 
For him, as for James Cagney, women were generally ir- 
relevant, though one or two usually skulked close at hand, 
should biological urgency assert itself. So single-mindedly 
did he pursue success that he had no time for the niceties of 
courtship or even ordinary friendship. 

Robinson and his great contemporary, Cagney, were proto- 
typical; there had been no one quite like them on the screen 
before. They were not, precisely, imitations of anything in 
life, but their manner and behavior quickly became symbols 
of, and for, a new irreverence for the world of convention 
and the world of power. They were also symbolic of Holly- 
wood's new view of what the public wanted. It still wasn't 
utter realism, but the gangster films did present an artistically 
heightened version of reality. They had a style, a tone of 
voice — shrill, nasty, and metallically hard — which fitted the 
national mood. 



120 



and after. The politician with whom he is making an 
alliance is Sidney Blackmer. The year is 1930. 




ROBINSON 







JAMES CAGNEY 

Efficiency expert 



The crime film, says Kenneth Tynan, "has always been 
openly unreal in structure, depending for its excitement on 
jazzed dialogue and overstated photography. But its influ- 
ence on scripting and camera work has been incalculable, in- 
volving many of the most expert and adult intelligences in 
Hollywood. ... A great deal of desperate urgency and at- 
tack would have been lost to the cinema if the gang film 
had not arrived, making fantastic technical demands. . . ." 
The true master of the form was James Cagney, an ex- 
hoofer who achieved stardom in his first picture, Public 
Enemy, in 1931. Cagney 's style was a compound of the 
dancer's grace, the hustler's energy and an infinite capacity 
for self-amusement. This amusement took the form of a sadism 
that carried no sexual charge. It had none of the heavy- 
breathing gravity of its Teutonic forms. Cagney merely 
bounded into a scene, chortled merrily and bumped some- 
one off. He did not prolong the moment in order to savor 
it. He was speedy, efficient, and like the good professional 
he was, he seemed to enjoy his own skill more than he did 
its end result. 



The traditional conceit of his films was that he was at- 
tempting to construct a criminal empire, to realize in his 
peculiarly American way the peculiarly American dream of 
the poor boy rising to a position of eminence. But this aspect 
of his activities was always the least well realized portion 
of his movies. Like any real artist, the Cagney gangster was 
more deeply involved in techniques than in such mundane 
end products as riches, fame, power or women. These last he 
treated with guarded indifference, and it was implicit in his 
first crime picture, and painfully explicit in his last (the 
admirable White Heat of 1949), that his best friend, and 
real love, was his mother. Only if he achieved success in 
her eyes would he be able, at last, to rest on his Tommy gun. 

In the end it is fair to say that Cagney's crook was the first 
existential anti-hero of the American films. Totally lacking 
in ideals, supremely contemptuous of conventional morality, 
he was interested only in the destruction of the world he 
never made. In every sense he was the man alone, respond- 
ing to the world's absurdity with a deadly and magnificent 
display of chillingly humorous destructiveness. 



Cagney brought his wondrous energy to the role of George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy and won an Academy Award. 



v** 




The bouncy amoralist of the early days. 
Left, he invades the privacy of Joan Blondell 
in Larceny Love. Below, the Public Enemy 
suffers a purely temporary setback, which does 
not seem to unduly upset him. The 1931 film 
was his first, and he never made a better one. 




^s 





'4 



\ 









X ' >" 







JEAN HARLOW 

New girl in town 



Jean Harlow provided the feminine counterpoint to the 
staccato chatter .of the machine gun. Her face was as hard 
as that of a porcelain doll. Her settings were always high-key, 
brilliant. There were many mirrors, much white satin, both 
on her person and in her bedroom, to which the camera 
quickly repaired and where it lingered long. Her principal 
occupation was the painstaking application of make-up — a 
make-up of such high gloss that one could almost catch 
a reflection in it. The platinum in her hair seemed the result 
of electroplating, not dye. In her way, she was as frank about 
sex as Mae West, but with considerable difference — sym- 
bolized by their figures. West seemed soft and yielding, a 
kind of painted earth mother for whom pleasure was every- 
thing. Miss Harlow's body was trim and efficient; no doubt 
she would prove highly efficient in her love making, but there 
was no promise of a comforting and comfortable afterglow 
with her. Instead, the implication was that the final act of 
love's drama would be the exchange of money. 

In the movies, the sex queen, the Theda Bara, the Mae 
West, the Harlow, the Marilyn Monroe — even the Garbo — 
always ends up playing a parody of herself. It is as if the 
audience cannot stand for long this physical manifestation 
of its dream life. It must at a certain point relieve the inner 
tension engendered by such stars through laughter. With 
considerable relief, the critics burst into print with the in- 
formation that the Symbol has become an extremely talented 
comedienne. Harlow was such when she died in 1937, having 
refused, because of her Christian Science faith, medical aid 
for complications following uremic poisoning. 

It is also true that stars who symbolize an era's sexual 
longings rarely find sexual happiness themselves. Harlow's 
only marriage ended in a month, with her husband's suicide. 
He, it developed, had been unable physically to satisfy any 
woman. Only William Powell brought her any happiness. 
For many years after she died he saw to it that fresh flowers 
were always present at her grave. 



The beautician s delight: Jean Harlow's dress was 
too tight for her to sit down between takes of 
Dinner at Eight. A characteristic preoccupation 
demands attention in Blonde Bombshell (right). 




125 



Marriage a la mode MYRNA LOY 




and WILLIAM POWELL 



To begin with, William Powell was not The Thin Man. 
The Thin Man was a mysterious stranger who held the key 
to the mystery in the first film of the series in 1934. Through 
the years M-G-M tried vainly to explain this nice distinction 
to the fans of Nick and Nora Charles, but finally gave up, 
and Powell, who was many things, but never exactly slender, 
was forever identified as a character he was not. 

Otherwise, The Thin Man series was a resounding success, 
providing Americans with a new — and not unhealthy — con- 
ception of the perfect marriage. The idea of turning Dashiell 
Hammett's comic detective story into a movie was exclu- 
sively that of W. S. (Woody) Van Dyke, long-term Holly- 
wood character, a director with an unerring ability to turn 
out any kind of film, under any conditions, on time and under 
budget. Known as "One Take" Van Dyke, he was a valuable 
craftsman. Unhindered by temperament or artistic preten- 
sions, he made, within the severe limits of the commercial 
formula, any number of first-rate films. Among the critics, 
only Manny Farber has paid tribute to those unsung direc- 
tors — Howard Hawks, William Wellman, William Keighley, 
Anthony Mann, ValLewton — who created the "underground" 
film. This was the ordinary little picture made solely to meet 
the need for a steady flow of film into the theaters, to which, 
so long as it did not slow down the production line, the front 
office paid no censorious heed. Their creators stressed fast 
action, snappy dialogue, clean-cut, unfancy film making and, 
in the process, achieved not only freedom of expression but 
a uniquely American-type movie. The Thin Man was a film 
in this category and, at his best, Woody Van Dyke was an 
outstanding underground operative. 

He found Hammett's book lying around unused in the 
story department and bludgeoned the front office into letting 
him make it on a B-picture budget and schedule (sixteen 
days ) . More important, he talked the studio into letting him 
try Powell and Myrna Loy in the leading roles. Both had been 
in movies for some time — Powell, an undefined sophisticate, 
was then making the Philo Vance detective series at another 
studio; Miss Loy was shuttling between parts as an Oriental 
siren and as a domestic bad girl. 

Together they created an image of mariage a la mode 
which many couples, all unknowing, are still imitating. In- 
dependently wealthy, Nick Charles affected a kind of mock- 
ing indolence, tended to drink too much and sometimes, in 
his amiable pursuit of clues, to lose sight of the forest for the 



trees. He did the big thinking for the pair, but Nora had a 
shrewd eye for the telling detail and a deliciously wifely way 
of bringing him down to earth. Nick treated her with in- 
dulgent whimsy, pretending to think of her as a scatterbrain, 
a mannerism which both seemed to know was a necessary 
indulgence of his male vanity. 

Theirs was the best cinematic representation of the work- 
ings of the modern male and female intelligences, how they 
clash and how they mesh. In the context of detection these 
qualities were thrown into high relief, and the wit and style 
of the films, though glossier than life, made them enormously 
entertaining figures in a depression-plagued world that was 
particularly hard on the institution of marriage. Nick and 
Nora reassured us that cohabitation can be fun. 




The Thin Man. Left, Nick and Nora Charles engaged 
in favorite occupations; he is drinking, she is 
making a wisecrack. Above, a phony but useful faint. 






127 








DIETRICH 

Temptation 

without 
temperament 



"The Kraut's the best that ever came into the ring," 
Ernest Hemingway once told Lillian Ross, and on another 
occasion he declared, "If she had nothing more than her 
voice, she could break your heart with it. But she also has 
that beautiful body and the timeless loveliness of her face." 

Marlene Dietrich has become, in our time, the embodiment 
of a legend. It is a legend of longevity, of glamour retained 
against the enemy time. But that legend is only the successor 
to a previous one, which was as a latter-day vamp. Early in 
her American career C. H. Rand wrote, "Your Latin or Slav 
vamps of the Pola Negri type don't happen to interest me. 
1 want beauty without bust-ups; temptation without tempera- 
ment. I want a woman whose passion is not a blind rage of 
the body or soul, but a recognition of mutual attraction in 
which reason or humour will play their part, as far as love 
permits. ... I find all my requisites in the screen character 
of Marlene Dietrich." 

Miss Dietrich dispensed with the edge of hysteria that was 
customary in the standard vamp performance and replaced 
it with a directness, an honesty in her approach to sex that 
was totally in keeping with the new American taste in these 
matters. She retained, however, an aura of what the popular 
press terms "mystery." Almost any actress who speaks from 
the American screen in a foreign accent will automatically be 
invested with this quality. Hers was perhaps more genuine 
than most. She combined, in appearance and in her oddly 
masculine voice, both command and invitation, and in this 
there was, indeed, an unsettling quality that, for want of a 
better term, could be called mystery. 

There was nothing mysterious about Marlene Dietrich's 
past. She was the daughter of a German army officer and she 
went on the stage in Berlin shortly after the First World War. 
She played, for the most part, women of unconventional 
morality, and the famous legs were exploited almost from the 
start. She worked both in films and on the stage, in musicals 

129 




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and in straight dramas, but it took Josef Von Sternberg to 
make an international star of her. 

He was a director who had worked both on the Continent 
and in Hollywood, a great pictorialist, a creator of moods, 
but not a man with any great sense of pace or dramatic 
urgency. In 1929 he returned to Germany with Emil Jannings, 
the great character actor whose career in Hollywood had 
begun to fail, to make The Blue Angel. When Von Sternberg 
saw Dietrich on stage he knew he had found the perfect foil 
for Jannings. She was to play Lulu, for whose love Jannings 
would unmercifully degrade himself. 

On the basis of her performance, Von Sternberg sold 
Dietrich to Hollywood and she, who has called him "the man 
1 wanted to please most," insisted on him as her director 
even though, in time, his humorless style almost ruined her 



career. He was particularly fascinated by those women who 
inhabit the twilight zone between the upper levels of whore- 
dom and the lower levels of show business, and most of the 
films he made with her explored the cruel materialism of the 
type, the empty sadism they displayed toward their lovers, 
the total mercilessness of their self-interest. The pictures 
would have been laughable had it not been for the suggestion 
of compassion with which Dietrich edged her performances. 
Even so, she was wise to leave Von Sternberg to make first 
the witty, highly styled Desire, and then Destry Rides Again. 
She has never totally escaped the milieu of the Von 
Sternberg films; she is still, more often than not, cast as an 
entertainer of some sort. We have come to see this as her 
natural habitat, a feeling she has exploited in her own 
successful appearances in the clubs in recent years. 



130 



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Boris Karloff as Frankenstein s monster. 



THE MONSTERS 



After Lon Chaney's death in 1930 — artificial snow, made 
out of cornflakes, lodged in his throat during filming and 
quickly created a fatal infection — his director, Tod Browning, 
a master of the grotesque, abandoned the naturalism that had 
marked the Chaney pictures and went in for the supernatural. 
His Dracula (1931 ) depended for its success on the creation 
of an internal logic, a monumental suspension of disbelief. 
Browning achieved this through the creation, by visual 
means, of an irresistibly eerie mood which the rational mind 
found itself powerless to resist. James Whale's Frankenstein 
was equally successful and in the monsters the public found 
symbols expressive of their own situation. The monsters were 
ghastly, living mistakes, cruel evidence that systems — and 
men — could fail through no fault of their own. In 1930-31 
almost every American could testify, from personal experi- 
ence, to the truth of this notion. 




Lon Chaney, Jr., last of horror s big three as the Wolf Man. 

Bela Lugosi has already done his worst to 
Helen Chandler in Dracula, first of the horrids. 



133 




Marie Dressier as the only living thing in the dull and pompous Anna Christie. 
the film in which "Gar bo Talks!" 



MARIE DRESSLER 



Marie Dressler, a woman of monumental proportions and 
presence, had been a star, both in comedy and drama, on the 
legitimate stage, in vaudeville and in pictures for most of her 
fifty-eight years when, in 1927, she found herself at the 
bottom of the deepest trough of her career. Broke, she was 
rescued by an M-G-M script writer named Frances Marion, 
who wrote a part into an Irish comedy for Miss Dressier, 
then persuaded Thalberg to cast her. The film, vehemently 
protested by sundry Hibernian orders, had to be withdrawn, 
but Thalberg did not lose faith in Dressier. His patience was 
well rewarded when, in 1930, the star provided the only 
vitality in the otherwise static and ludicrous Anna Christie. 
Playing a slatternly dockside doxy, Dressier was an incom- 



parable combination of the proud, the self-pitying and the 
vulgar. 

The permanence of her comeback was assured when she 
teamed with the rude Wallace Beery in Min and Bill, a lusty 
comedy about a frowzy, quarrelsome and sentimental pair of 
old sots. The film sealed the success of both stars' comebacks 
and until cancer struck her down Marie Dressier was the 
highest paid performer at Metro. She earned her position 
through a simple trick: when playing a woman of wealth, she 
always added a broad touch of the common; when playing 
the common she always added a little bit of the grand. She 
thus attained a kind of universality — certainly a fine comedy 
of contrast. 



134 






SHIRLEY TEMPLE 



Shirley Temple was born in Santa Monica, just ten miles 
from Hollywood, on April 23, 1928. Her father was manager 
of a bank, and her mother was intelligently ambitious. At 
three the child began taking dancing lessons, and after her 
third lesson a scout picked her up for work in a series of 
short subjects in which babies burlesqued adult films. She 
did bits in features "just for the fun of it," her mother later 
said, then got the chance, at age six, to sing one song, "Baby 
Take" a Bow," in Stand Up and Cheer. She got a contract 
on the basis of it, and, for some reason, appeared to every 
mother in America to be either the girl they had wanted to 
be, or the girl they wanted their daughters to be. She made 
seven pictures that year, the last of which billed her alone 
above the title. 

She was in manner a pre-pubescent Mary Pickford — 
cute, cheerful, dreadful — and all over America mothers got 
out their curling irons to twist their daughter's hair into the 
fifty-five curls that always surmounted Shirley's perpetual 
baby face. No child star before or after Miss Temple achieved 
so large a cult, so quickly. Undoubtedly she owed her suc- 
cess to the depression, which created a desperate need for 
her sort of vacuous cheerfulness. Was there more to it than 
that? Perhaps: let us merely note that she successfully prose- 
cuted a libel suit against Graham Greene after he suggested 
that she was, in manner, a pocket Claudette Colbert, capable 
of the same kind of coquetry. 





Shirley Temple, in The Little Colonel, 
and as Shirley Temple (above) . 



MICKEY 
ROONEY 



All the child stars before Rooney had been insufferably 
sweet. He was the first to achieve greatness as an out-and-out 
brat. Since adolescents are ever thus, Rooney achieved a 
unique rapport with the parents in his audience. They re- 
garded him with much of the exasperated affection they held 
for their own children. Compared to someone like Shirley 
Temple, he was tonic. Rooney was the son of a vaudeville 
family and had been trouping since he was six. He was 
thirteen when David Selznick found him providing the enter- 
tainment for a children's ping-pong tournament and signed 
him in 1933. His first film was Broadway to Hollywood in 



which he was type-cast as the son of a vaudeville couple. He 
played Clark Gable as a boy in Manhattan Melodrama, then 
played the bad-little-boy to the good-little-boy of Freddie 
Bartholomew in a couple of pictures. Then there was the rela- 
tionship between Rooney and Spencer Tracy; he played 
Tracy's son in Captains Courageous, Tracy's toughest charge 
in Boy's Town, and even Young Tom Edison, the sequel of 
which was Edison the Man starring Tracy. Finally, there 
were the kid-stuff romances with Judy Garland, the Andy 
Hardy series and, at last the mature Rooney, now over forty, 
an energetic and expert character actor whose very presence 
as an adult reminds us — uncomfortably — of how time flies, 
which fact prevents him from again attaining the true star- 
dom of his youth. 




136 





Mickey Rooney was a refreshingly 
bratty child star, as exasperatingly 
impossible as your own youngster. 
Here he is in Babes in Arms, one of those 
show-bizzy tales in which he costarred 
with Judy Garland. The film was based on 
the Broadway hit of Rodgers and Hart, 
but you had to look awfully hard to find 
more than a superficial resemblance. 




JUDY GARLAND 

The edge of peril 




HHH 

A star is reborn : Judy Garland 
in the 1954 remake of A Star Is 
Born, with James Mason. The film 
was a high point in one of Garland's 
many recent comeback efforts. 



Frances Gumm also began her career as a professional 
entertainer at the age of three, in 1927. But, unlike Temple, 
she was eleven before she came to a studio. She was renamed 
Judy Garland and, with another child star, named Deanna 
Durbin, made a little short subject called Every Sunday. 
Corny, brutal, megalomaniacal Louis B. Mayer, head of pro- 
duction at M-G-M, had a weakness for films about kids and 
families — subjects he regarded as particularly and heart- 
warmingly American. It was he who made the contracts 
with Garland and Durbin, he who decided, when the short 
was finished, that they should be teamed — and he who fairly 
tore the studio apart when he discovered that the latter had 
been allowed to escape to Universal. 

The mistake very nearly cost Judy her career, for the 
studio could think of nothing very exciting for her to do. 
Idling under contract, she got a chance to sing at a studio 
party, impressing executives enough to let her do a bit in 
Broadway Melody of 1938. She was teamed with Rooney 
both in and out of the Hardy series and at last was cast as 
Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. It charmed the nation and 
created for Miss Garland a sympathy with her public that 
has withstood the many cruelties of the years since. 

Engaged, in 1961—62, in the third major comeback of her 
career, Miss Garland, like nearly everyone else, was at a loss 
to find the reason for the magical hold she has on an audi- 
ence. "It may be my power of concentration," she told writer 
Jack Hamilton. "I really mean every word of every song I 
sing, no matter how many times I've sung it before. . . . All 
you have to do is never cheat and work your best and work 
your hardest, and they'll respond to you." 

She was close to the truth. In general, great performances, 
especially on film, seem to result from an inner tension, the 
tension created by raw energy and the performer's control of 
that energy. At her finest, Miss Garland, especially in her 
maturity, seems always about to be destroyed by her own 
inner forces. It puts a quiver of passion in her voice and 
a chill in the listener's spine. At every moment of a Garland 
performance you feel that you stand with the star on the 
brink of disaster, and a hundred times a night she saves 
herself — and her sympathetic admirers — from the abyss. 




138 




Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Judy, and Bert Lahr "Follow the Yellow Brick Road" in The Wizard of Oz. 



139 







FREDASTAIRE 



The Sky's the Limit (1943), contained 
some of Astaire's greatest dancing. 



Garland's greatness is based on the openness with which 
she draws the audience into the performance. You are sup- 
posed to feel what she feels as she works, to sense, if not to 
fully understand, the psychological pressures that contribute 
to the force of performance. In the openness with which she 
has allowed her illnesses of body and spirit to be discussed 
in public and the contribution this knowledge makes to 
our understanding of and identification with her public per- 
sonality, she is very much the child of our time. It being 
the age of psychology, Garland, partly by choice, partly be- 
cause of the public's strong desire to invade the celebrity's 
privacy, has used her weaknesses — and ours — to build an 
almost fanatical bond of identification between herself and 
her audience. 

Fred Astaire is a performer of exactly the opposite kind. 
One never sees in his work a gesture which is not perfection. 
The man's movements have the open grace, the confidence 
which is the result of concentrated study and lifelong disci- 
pline. But, of course, he confides nothing. He is a very pri- 
vate man who personifies stylishness but reveals little of his 
inner self. Not that the spectator feels any need to ask for 
more than Astaire gives. There is, indeed, no more satisfying 
performer in the world. 

The dancer's basic tool is the space through which he 
moves; it is his business to create, out of emptiness, the 
ordered patterns of art. Astaire's special virtue, as an artist, 
has been to dominate any space he chooses, with consummate 
ease. One does not imagine him struggling for this domi- 
nance, and the spectator for the most part fails to remember 
that such ease can result only from the most intense off-stage 
efforts. This seeming ease is the secret of his appeal. Says 
film choreographer Hermes Pan: "Fred can dance a very 
intricate routine, and he makes it look so simple and easy. 
It gives the audience a sense of self-identification and a feel- 
ing that they, too, can do it." 

The seams of his work never show, and neither does the 
intensity of the man who creates it. In fact, nothing shows 
but what Astaire wants to show, which is casualness, cool- 
ness, a taste for relaxed elegance, a shy humor, a modesty 
which seems to hold his art very lightly — as an unprecious 
achievement. It is said that he has a fiery temper but that it 
is directed only at people who attempt to interfere with the 
integrity of his work or at those who are unprofessional in 
their attitudes toward dance. "I have never seen such a dedi- 



The edge of perfection 



..-,.":* v;\ ^ 




The beloved partnership: Astaire and Ginger Rogers in Swing Time (1936). 



cated man," says one film producer. "He rehearses twice as 
much as any kid just breaking in." 

His contribution to the art of the screen is larger than that 
of almost any other performer, for few can claim to have 
revamped an entire screen genre. When he came to Holly- 
wood, after years of theatrical stardom with his sister Adele 
the screen musical was still in its vulgar infancy. Its chief 
features were what seemed to be hundreds of girls perform- 
ing the most banal and brassy routines in ludicrous back- 



stage, Graustarkian or collegian settings, an awkwardness of 
technique that was appalling. 

Astaire was afraid of Hollywood and what it might do with 
him, and Hollywood didn't quite know what to make of him. 
"Can't act. Slightly bald. Can dance a little." read the now 
famous report on his screen test. He was loaned out for a 
small part with Joan Crawford in Dancing Lady, then began 
the immensely profitable and pleasurable series of films with 
Ginger Rogers. The two did not get on well, but, between 



141 



The 

Swinging 

Partners 





^ 




First film: The Dancing Lady, with Crawford. You Were Never Lovelier. Astaire and a favorite partner, Rita Hay worth. 



them, they shifted the style of cinematic dance. No longer 
did the plot have to be a theatrical one in order to provide a 
rationale for dancing. They could dance any time, any place, 
anywhere. When they whirled into motion it seemed merely 
a natural expression of whatever emotion had seized them. 
One always had to stifle a laugh when Nelson Eddy, in the 
midst of a primeval forest, or a revolution, suddenly burst 
into song so deafening that you feared for Miss MacDonald's 



eardrums; it was all so terribly false. There was nothing 
of that about Astaire and Rogers. His singing was a sort 
of hoarse whisper, totally without the big mannerisms and 
tones of the operatic tradition which rang so false in the 
intimacy of the movies. The same could be said of his non- 
acting — it was always offhand, natural, gentle even in anger. 
Almost singlehanded Astaire brought the musical back to 
earth, fitting it to the pseudo-realistic requirements of the 



142 



screen. Furthermore, he freed screen dance from the neces- 
sity of being a huge spectacle, made of it the expression of 
an individual. He insisted that the camera stay still, focused 
on his full figure, shrewdly sensing that he alone could pro- 
vide all the movement the medium required, that all else 
would be distracting and irrelevant 

The total effect was summed up by Astaire himself one 



time. "I don't dig this brooding, analytical stuff," he said. 
"I just dance, and I just act." This, of course, is the impres- 
sion he has sought to convey through his artless art these 
many years. He "just" dances, "just" acts, "just" is. And 
perhaps there is no more to Astaire than meets the eye. What 
meets the eye is, of course, utterly charming, completely 
amusing, totally distracting. 











Astaire and Rogers again (left) 
and Astaire and Cyd Charisse 
(above) , in The Bandwagon, a fine 
film version of the Schwartz-Dietz revue. 



143 




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PAUL 

MUNI 

The disguised hero 




°aul Muni in The Good Earth, film that brought Luise Rainer her second Oscar. 



Iollywood, with its usual imperception, tried to make 
*aul Muni into a new Lon Chaney — a man with a thousand 
aces. Muni, always terribly serious about his work, rebelled 
it this and, as he tells it, literally did handsprings in his 
iving room when he bought out his Warner Brothers contract 
n the late thirties. A shy man who said that "all the things 

J hat usually appeal to an actor make me shrivel inside," he 
mdoubtedly found it comforting to hide beneath his sundry, 
I ind exceedingly clever, make-ups. 

Through most of them, however, shone certain qualities 
l9n which the audience could always depend. Whether he was 
(Zola, Pasteur, Juarez or a Chinese peasant, he generally ex- 
hibited a lovable crustiness, a mildly eccentric nonconformity 
that made his character seem, no matter how remote the time 
Ipr place in which he was set, comfortingly familiar to us. 
Jn the end we perceived beneath the disguise an uncle or 
a grandfather, wise, humorous, patient, given to endearing 
little outbursts of temper. His great use in the films was to 
make the unfamiliar seem suddenly as recognizable and com- 
fortable as the drama of our own living room. 



Muni made a career of playing men older than himself or, 
at least, ones who aged considerably in the course of the 
work in hand. As a child and young man he appeared in 
literally hundreds of the Yiddish theater productions with his 
family. The first was at the age of twelve, and naturally he 
played a little old man. His first Broadway success was also 
as a gaffer, whom he mimed so skillfully that one critic ex- 
pressed outrage that "this old man should have spent a life- 
time waiting for a chance to appear on Broadway." 

His acting technique was based on an uncanny talent, both 
physical and vocal, for mimicry and imitation; it is his ex- 
hausting habit to read and study for months before creating 
the outer shell of the character in which the unchanging Muni 
hides. Aided by his wife, he zealously and jealously protects 
his privacy, and he was careful, in the comparatively brief 
years of his great success, to build an economic security en- 
abling him to live a modest life without depending on acting 
for sustenance. In truth, his considerable art is based on 
concealment not revelation, and it is unlikely that he ever 
once exposed any aspect of the real Paul Muni to public gaze. 



Muni in his first great film success, I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932). 



145 



BETTE DAVIS 

The disturbed heroine 



One of her husbands, Gary Merrill, said that "whatever 
Bette would have chosen to do in life, she would have had 
to be the top or she couldn't have endured it." Probably 
no truer words have ever been spoken about Miss Davis. 
The question of whether she is really a great actress — in the 
theatrical, rather than the movie sense — has yet to be settled. 
But no one has ever been better than Davis at her best on the 
screen. She had tremendous nervous energy which communi- 
cated itself in a hundred small ways — the intensity of her 
voice, the famous mannerisms with the cigarette, the way in 
which her huge eyes skittered about, nervous, insecure, try- 
ing, it seemed, to discover a lurking peril, which never was 
far away in a Davis picture. Her responses had an electric 
intensity that verged on hysteria. One got the impression of 
a woman teetering along the brink of a breakdown — a break-_ 
down which never came because, in the end, by sheer will, 
she would pull herself together and, if not avert disaster, 
learn to live with it or to profit from it. 

Miss Davis created a new screen type — the modern woman, 
neurotic, threatened, uncertain about her role in life, but de- 
termined to fight for happiness. Usually, she played a woman 
of considerable status — either an inheritor of wealth or the 
possessor of a prosperous career, a little bit mannish in 
manner, but beneath her aggressive exterior, frightened and 
lonely. There was a wild quality about this creation; you 
could never be absolutely certain what she might do next. 
But a strong man, a man as sure of his masculinity as the 
Davis character wanted to be sure of her femininity, could 
tame her. 

As for Miss Davis herself, she was — and is — a woman of 
temperament and determination. Had she not possessed both 
qualities she would not have been a star at all, for although 
she had a youthful freshness, she was no beauty in the usual 
screen sense. Born in Lowell, Massachusetts, April 5, 1908, 
she was reared in impoverished gentility; educated in private 

Bette Davis in a role for which she 
was born, The Virgin Queen. 

The first film after her strike against Warner 

Brothers. She wanted better roles, got 

one in 1937 gangster film, Marked Woman. 



high schools and after graduation went to New York to study 
at the John Murray Anderson drama school. After the usual 
testing period in stock, she got two good parts on Broadway 
— in Broken Dishes and in The Solid South. Her first screen 
contract, with Universal, followed. She recalls that she had 
"about as much sex appeal as Slim Summerville," and after 
a succession of dreary roles, she found herself out of a con- 






— "— ~"5 



The poor little rich girl of Dark Victory, 1939. 



Dark Victory again, after the noble doctor (George Brent) has 



tract and ready to go back to New York. Just then, however, 
George Arliss was searching for a young girl for a small, 
good part in The Man Who Played God. Davis got it and was 
on her way. 

The next major turning point in her career was as the 
man-killing waitress in Of Human Bondage, the first picture 
in which all of her tremendous power was unleashed. The 
fresh-faced ingenue returned from time to time, notably in 
The Petrified Forest (1936), but energy and neurosis came 
more and more to dominate her screen characters, especially 
after her famous strike against Warner Brothers when she 
demanded better roles and got them, starting with Marked 
Woman in 1937 and continuing through Jezebel, Dark Vic- 
tory, The Old Maid, The Little Foxes, Now, Voyager and 
finally that epochal summation of the Davis screen character, 
All About Eve. 

In the years since that wonderful film, Miss Davis' career 
has been in something of a decline. Too honest to attempt to 
maintain a spurious youthfulness, she looks her age now and 
is barred by it from playing romantic parts, despite the fact 



that many of her contemporaries are still faking youthful- 
ness. Refusing to live for any length of time in Hollywood, 
the phoniness of which she dislikes, she has tried the theater, 
which has squandered her talent in a way that it usually 
criticizes movies for doing. 

She herself now affects a certain weariness. "I enjoy act- 
ing," she told an interviewer, "but I don't have to do it to 
be happy. You change through the years and lose something 
along the way. You don't remain as much a fighter as you 
get older. Things don't seem as important as they once did." 

Many people believe that Miss Davis' well-known desire to 
have things her own way in pictures proved her premature 
undoing. In the late years of her career as the top dramatic 
star of American films she seemed deliberately to insist on 
actors who were not her equal and directors whom she could 
dominate. By 1945 the perceptive James Agee noticed what 
was going wrong. Reviewing The Corn Is Green, he wrote: 
"It seems to me she is quite limited, which may be no sin but 
is a pity, and that she is limiting herself beyond her rights 
by becoming more and more set, official and first-ladyish in 



148 




shown her the true meaning of life. 

mannerism and spirit, which is perhaps a sin as well as a 
pity. ... I have a feeling that Miss Davis must have a great 
deal of trouble finding films which seem appropriate, feasible 
and worth doing, and I wish that I, or anyone else, could be 
of use to her in that. For very few people in her position in 
films mean, or could do, so well. But I doubt that anything 
could help much unless she were willing to discard much that 
goes with position — unless, indeed, she realized the absolute 
necessity of doing so." 

This is probably as full and fair a statement of the artistic 
dilemma in which Miss Davis found herself in the middle 
and late forties as could be made. An individualist and a 
potential talent of the first rank, she devoted herself to an 
industry that loathes the first and pays only lip service to 
the second. Now, without the position she once had, she 
seems to be living with the artistic daring she once fought 
for, then seemed to lose after she achieved the status she also 
craved. She remains a great lady, one of the very few who 
dared and succeeded at the grand manner in a movie age 
that did not appreciate it. 




Storm Center, one of the succession of 
poor recent films which Davis has 
illuminated by her presence. In this 
one she played a librarian fighting to 
save her books from the censors. 



149 




150 



Leslie Howard as Romeo. Norma Shearer was Juliet in this 1936 try for culture. 



LESLIE HOWARD 

The perfect Englishman 



"I am," said Leslie Howard, "one of those unfortunate 
people to whom any kind of public appearance is an embar- 
rassment, for whom to have to perform before my fellow men 
is a misery. . . . From the moment when, offered accidentally 
and accepted economically, I got my first job on the stage 
and sheepishly daubed my face with grease paint, I had the 
inner conviction that this was the most embarrassing occu- 
pation in the world." 

This attitude may have been something of a pose, but it 
is true that Howard was vague, forgetful, shy — and somehow 
extremely charming. He had the great virtue of being un- 
serious about himself, and in the thirties, when Hollywood 
was host to scores of English actors whose elegant enunci- 
ations of the language were much prized, Howard was the 
most interesting of a type. His style was ideally suited to 
movie acting. Even as a stage actor he had demonstrated the 
knack of infusing each new part with his own personality. 

Brooks Atkinson wrote, at the time of Howard's stage 
triumph in The Petrified Forest: "His style of playing is such 
a lucid expression of his light slender buoyant personal ap- 
pearance that I confess I am unable to tell how his acting of 
Alan Squier differs from his acting of Peter Standish in 
Berkeley Square or Tom Collier in The Animal Kingdom. 
In my mind all those parts are permanently stamped in the 
image of Mr. Howard's limpid personality." 

What was most clear in Howard's work was that he was 
a shy romantic, an uninsistent cavalier. He was extremely 
myopic, so his gaze seemed always to be fixed on some far 
horizon rather than on the mundane present. Hence the per- 
formances for which he is best remembered: Alan Squier; 
Ashley in Gone with the Wind (of which he said, "Terrible 
lot of nonsense — heaven help me if I read the book"); the 
violinist in Intermezzo; even the visionary airplane designer 
in his last film, Spitfire. He was par excellence the dreamer, 
and his death in 1943, in a commercial plane shot down by 
Nazi raiders, was an appropriate one. He had been on an 
unimportant wartime mission, but one which represented the 
best contribution an actor could make to a cause in which 
he deeply believed and for which he had willingly, quix- 
otically made sacrifices — including, finally, his life. 




The real Howard: myopic, informal, charming 




Howard in Intermezzo. He played opposite a newcomer 
named lngrid Bergman. 



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152 



Charles Boyer in Arch of Triumph (above) and in his most famous role, 
Pepe LeMoko in Algiers (1938) with, of course, Hedy Lamarr. 




CHARLES 
BOYER 

The perfect 
Continental 



The Romantic. Boyer turns on the charm for Ingrid Bergman's benefit. 



Just as Howard was the perfect Englishman, Charles Boyer 
was the perfect movie Frenchman, ideal symbol of those 
magically romantic qualities with which Anglo-Saxons have 
always invested the Gallic male. His deep and vibrant voice 
spoke a promise of new adventures in love, his deep, sad eyes 
bespoke a worldly knowledge untarnished by cynicism. He 
had the boudoir grace of Valentino without the hysteria or 
the sometime effeminacy of the great lover. Boyer, in short, 
was an old-style romantic without the grand manner. 

He came to Hollywood in the early thirties, was miscast in 
a series of small parts (he was Jean Harlow's chauffeur 
in Red-Headed Woman ) , played in the specially prepared 



French versions of American movies then being filmed on 
the Coast, finally quit in disgust to return to his fine French 
career. He came back to play a curly-haired gypsy in 
Caravan, then made his breakthrough in Private Worlds 
( 1935 ) , an early psychodrama costarring Claudette Colbert. 
Mayerling and Algiers consolidated his position. 

After the war, the romantic years past, he established him- 
self once again as a serious actor ( on Broadway in Red Gloves 
and Don Juan in Hell), as an able farceur (Kind Sir and 
The Marriage-Go-Round ) , finally as an excellent movie char- 
acter man (Fanny). A frequently parodied actor, he has had 
the dignity never to parody his former screen self. 



N 



* / 








CAROLE 
LOMBARD 

The perfect realist 




Nothing Sacred — not even the jaw Fredric March socks. 




Comediennes were the new wave of the thirties. What was 
funny about them was that they always turned out to be more 
realistic than the men in their pictures. They had a sharper 
sense of right and wrong, were better students of tactics, 
and were masters of the mannish wisecrack. In a movie 
world where women had, prior to the depression, been either 
innocents or exotics, they were refreshingly down-to-earth. 
In comedy, previously dominated by males — with women 
used only as foils or decoration — they actually set the style 
of the period. For want of a better term, they were known 
as screwballs and, of them all — Jean Arthur, Rosalind Rus- 
sell, Claudette Colbert — the best was Carole Lombard. 

Born in Indiana, she came to Los Angeles as a child and 
did her first movie work at age eleven. She waited all of four 
years before going to work full time in the movies. Junior- 
high diploma in hand, she reported for work as a cowgirl in 
Buck Jones Westerns at seventy-five dollars a week, then 
graduated to Mack Sennett comedies. Joseph P. Kennedy, 
then heading Pathe, saw her and offered her more money to 
appear in films at his studio — if she would lose weight. She 
agreed, but made a splendid exit from his office, crying, 
"You're not so skinny yourself." He went into training, and 
Miss Lombard went into bigger and bigger pictures — 
Twentieth Century, My Man Godfrey and, best of all, Nothing 
Sacred (1937), a Ben Hecht joke on newsmen and publicity 
stunts. Her screen personality was implacably logical — like 
that of the great comics and all womankind. 

Off screen she was a blunt-spoken practical joker, given to 
such pranks as screwing flash bulbs into light sockets and 
lingering to wait for the explosion when an innocent turned 
the light on. She once rewrote a contract with her agent 
specifying that he pay her 10 per cent of her salary. She 
wooed Clark Gable with a model T on which she pasted hun- 
dreds of paper hearts and when they were married became 
a regular guy, placing his tastes — and career — ahead of her 
own. She was in all ways a delight, and her death in a war- 
time plane accident was a genuine tragedy. 



Starlet days. Carole Lombard shares a beachball with Diane Ellis. 



154 



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Fools for Scandal. Behind one of those masks is Ralph Bellamy. 



HENRY FONDA The perfect rustk 



In The Seesaw Log, William Gibson tells of a moment in 
rehearsal when Henry Fonda drew director Arthur Penn 
aside and told him "that what he had to give the public was 
naturalness and ease, which this part did not let him feel, and 
that his nights were sleepless with worry. In all this there was 
aesthetic and personal honesty. Hank could not bear to de- 
liver a line falsely, just as I never heard him utter a sociable 
insincerity to any of us . . ." 

This comes from a man with whom Fonda had perhaps the 
most serious artistic disagreements of his career. Both before 
and after this unhappy experience Fonda demonstrated a 
shrewd and honest ability to judge the limits of his appeal- 
ing talent and rarely, if ever, has he overmatched himself; 
rarely, if ever, has he failed to work strongly within his 
limits. He came to movies from the stage, where he had 
scored a hit, after the usual apprenticeships, in The Farmer 
Takes a Wife. 

The flat accents of his native Middle West and the direct 



honesty of his mien stood him in good stead in that bucolic 
gambol, and although Fonda has demonstrated a flair for 
farce, he has not lost the accent or its implications in the 
mythology of our time. It seems to stand for the rustic vir- 
tues — honesty, integrity, sincerity — and whether he is wear- 
ing a six-shooter, a naval officer's uniform or the well-cut 
attire of a banker, those virtues accompany his presence. 

His first movie successes came in dramas of social con- 
sciousness, notably as Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath 
and as Frank James in Jesse James, a message Western in 
which the noted thieves were portrayed as Robin Hoods aid- 
ing poor farmers caught in the toils of rail and banking 
interests. There was need for his type in the films of the 
thirties and he made one of the last and best of the rural 
social dramas, Ox-Bow Incident (1943), an honest, dusty 
study of lynch law. He now operates mainly in city garb, 
but a little bit of what is best about the life of the land 
clings to his presence. 



Frank James makes his getaway. The film is Jesse James (1939). 




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Fonda as Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath, one of the many honest rustics he played. 




Fonda recreates his most famous stage role, Mr. Roberts, for the movies. 



157 



CLAUDETTE COLBERT 




Virtue is wronged by Edmund Lowe in The Misleading Lady. 



"You harlot," cried Fredric March. 

"I love you," simpered Claudette Colbert. 

"That's enough," said Cecil B. DeMille. 

On the basis of five words of dialogue he decided to turn a 
pleasant young comedienne into Poppaea, wickedest woman 
in the world. The justly famed bath in asses' milk in The 
Sign of the Cross ( 1932 ) would shortly follow. There were 
some things that sound and the depression could not change. 
Among them were the public's love of spectacle, the movies' 
transcendent ability to provide same, and Cecil B. DeMille's 
mastery of the form. He would turn, after this film, from 
rewriting Biblical history to experiments with the American 
past, until after the Second World War Americans tired of 



patriotism and were ready for such religious consolation as 
he could offer. The DeMille formula did not change whatever 
the period. It was always a blend of sex, sadism, action, 
pseudo nobility and, for the individual who abandoned atti- 
tudes at the door, great good fun. 

As for Miss Colbert, a transplanted Parisian with con- 
siderable stage and screen experience prior to the big lift 
DeMille gave her in The Sign of the Cross and in Cleopatra, 
she sensibly varied her pace throughout the decade. The year 
she made Cleopatra she also made It Happened One Night, 
and whether playing the Queen of the Nile or a rich girl on 
the run, she retained a kind of wide-eyed innocence and 
youthful gaiety which never grew tiresome. 



158 



Virtue defends herself— after a fashion— in The Wiser Sex. 




Virtue is wronged by the Puritans in Maid of Salem. 







4fea 



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Leading men 







Power and Gene Tierney in Son of Fury (1942). 



The bearer of a distinguished name in the annals of stage 
melodrama, Tyrone Power, Jr., was destined to turn to the 
movies, inheritor of the audience and many of the basic 
ideas of the popular theater. In 1937 he dropped the "Jr." 
from his name, and in the fifties he essayed, with consider- 
able success, some serious dramatic roles on the stage. He 
died in 1960 while filming Solomon and Sheba in Spain. 

His first film successes were as an extremely callow juve- 
nile, notably in Lloyds of London (1936). He quickly ma- 
tured, however, into a leading man of the classic type — 
exuding a kind of generalized sex appeal while suggesting 
no strongly personal traits. He could thus play any part — 
Western, urban, comic, dramatic — without becoming auto- 
matically typed. Yet, because he was a man of intelligence 
and some sensitivity, he occasionally rose above being a 
mere leading man and did a bit of acting, notably in Night- 
mare Alley. He had intelligence, adaptability and energy that 
other leading men — equally reliable — lacked. 




160 



A couple of cons named Lloyd Nolan and 
Tyrone Power fight it out in Johnny Apollo. 




TYRONE POWER 






Leading men 

ROBERT 
TAYLOR 





A hero for every age: Above, Taylor appears as Ivanhoe, 

and as a cowboy. Left, he is the noblest Roman of 

them all, a centurion converted to Christianity in Quo Vadis? 



Undoubtedly there exists, somewhere, the real Robert 
Taylor, a man with frets, passions, anxieties, humors cus- 
tomarily associated with human existence. That man, or even 
a hint of him, has yet to appear on any movie screen. No 
full-scale emotion, not even the suggestion of some engaging 
quirk of character, has ever been allowed to mar the im- 
pressive impassivity of Taylor's remarkably beautiful coun- 
tenance. He was, in his prime, the male equivalent of the 
Love Goddess, existing for no purpose but to be worshiped, 
and it is significant that his first movie success was as 
Garbo's youthful lover, Armand, in Camille, that curious 
exercise in somnambulism, in which two objects of perfect 
beauty swam with entrancing unreality before our eyes for 
an hour and a half. Taylor was then not long out of Pomona 



College and only a few films away from his debut in Broads 
way Melody of 1936, in which for reasons clear only to al 
movie mogul he warbled "I Got a Feeling You're Foolin' ' 
and danced a little. 

After Camille he played in everything, finding his metieil 
in such heavy postwar costume epics as Quo Vadis? and 
Ivanhoe, where his somewhat remote presence in no way 
interfered with our appreciation of scenery, costumes, and 
casts of thousands engaged in a clattering clutter of expen- 
sive action. To this day Mr. Taylor has not learned how tc 
speak a line with even rudimentary believability, age (he is 
now fifty-one) has stained his beauty, but he continues tc 
work, a slightly decrepit god who, naturally shy, has hidden 
behind the beautiful mask nature so kindly provided him. 



162 



Leadmg men FREDRIC MARCH 



When Fredric March was graduated from the University 
of Wisconsin he received a scholarship which provided for 
his training as a banker at the National City Bank of New 
York. He did not last long in finance, abandoning his ap- 
prenticeship for work as a Belasco extra. But he has 
not lost in the intervening years the dignity and solidity that 
are usually associated with the money man. A certain so- 
briety is always present in his performances and is, indeed, 
a sort of trademark with him. This is not to say that March, 
particularly in films, is not an actor of considerable range, 
sensitivity and subtlety. The screen, where much can be indi- 
cated by the flicker of an expression, is the medium for 



which he was born. 

He came to Los Angeles in the touring company of The 
Royal Family in 1928, stayed on to play the John Barrymore 
part in the film version and has since played upwards of 
sixty film roles. They have ranged from Roman centurions to 
American admirals, from Philip of Macedonia to Anthony 
Adverse, from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (his first Academy 
Award performance) to, coming full circle, a humanistic 
banker in The Best Years of Our Lives, for which he won 
a second Oscar. He has no peer at playing the gruff, middle- 
class professional man, and it is these portrayals which mark 
the main line of his film career. 




The several faces of Fredric March. Above, he is the 
grumpy pathologist of The Young Doctors. Left, he 
appears in Christopher Columbus (1949), a dull film. 



164 







* 



? 



Don't make waves! March carries John Beal through the Paris sewers in Les Miserable:- 







. 



The carnivore BARBARA STANWYCK 




"/ want to go on until they have to shoot me," Barbara Stanwyck has said. 

With Ronald Reagan, in Cattle Queen of Montana, she does some shooting of her own. 



Nearly every woman who achieved movie stardom during 
the 1930's was called upon, at one time or another, to act 
tough. The hard woman was a basic discovery of the Ameri- 
can movie industry in this period, but of all the brassy or 
wisecracking or mannish women who disported themselves 
on the screen in the decade after the movies began to talk, 
only one woman built a durable career out of toughness. 
That was Barbara Stanwyck. Her specialty was a narrow- 
eyed, thin-lipped and totally withering glare combining con- 
tempt, avarice and a challenge to humanize her which could 
fell a male pursuer in his tracks. She was utterly impenetra- 
ble and utterly implacable in pursuit of her goals which were 
(a) money and (b) destruction of the male animal. 

Miss Stanwyck's films seldom offered any explanation of 
why she was so lacking in the ordinary female emotions. She 
simply existed, hard as nails, the pure incarnation of the 
ruthless American woman — selfish, demanding, destructive. 
Although she rarely played a mother, she was, on screen, a 
representation of exactly what Philip Wylie was talking 



about in his famous essay on Mom. 

She was born Ruby Stevens in Brooklyn on July 16, 1907. 
Orphaned when she was four, she was raised in a series of 
foster homes. At thirteen she became a professional dancer, 
a trade she had mostly taught herself. Cast in a show called 
The Noose, she got her first break when, in the out-of-town 
tryouts, the show was rewritten and a chorine was needed as 
heroine. Miss Stanwyck got the part. She went from that play 
to stardom in Burlesque and was brought to Hollywood by 
Frank Capra for Ladies of Leisure. 

In all of these she was a hard case, and even in 1940, when 
she scored one of her rare comedy hits (in The Lady Eve), 
she played a professional card sharp. Probably her finest 
piece of work, expressing the quintessential Stanwyck, was 
in Double Indemnity (1944), Billy Wilder's savage study 
of chilling sex and emotionless murder. Hers was the attrac- 
tion of complete, unnerving dominance — her screen lovers 
never believed that any woman could be so purely evil. Fasci- 
nated, they always discovered too late that she was. 



The young Stanwyck, looking softer, sweeter than one remembers her. 



167 



KATHARINE HEPBURN 

The lady as star 




With Barrymore in A Bill of Divorcement, her first major hit (1932). 



There is a story that when Katharine Hepburn appeared 
in the dormitory dining room on the first night of her fresh- 
man year at Bryn Mawr, clad in a courage-bolstering bright- 
red dress, there was a dead silence, broken at last by the loud 
drawl of an upperclassman. "Ah," she cried, "conscious 
beauty." It is said that Miss Hepburn did not reappear in 
the dining room for seven months, that she seldom slept in 
her own room for the next two years, preferring the floor of 
a friend's room in another dormitory. 

Much of the Hepburn screen presence is summed up by 
the Bryn Mawr anecdote. She is indeed a conscious beauty. 
Yet she seems shy about it, adopting a set of brittle, conceal- 
ing mannerisms which are both pseudo-tough and sweetly 
skittish. She radiates intelligence and pride in her intelli- 
gence, which extends even to the business aspects of her 



career. (She was one of the few stars whom Louis B. Mayer 
could not best in contract negotiations.) On screen she is 
seemingly cold but easily awakened to love, fun, displays of 
anger, contempt and wicked humor. She is, in short, that 
genuine Hollywood rarity, a contradictory personality. 

Going from Bryn Mawr to stock company acting, to an 
up-and-down Broadway career, she was labeled in 1937, 
after five Hollywood years (starting with Bill of Divorce- 
ment), as box-office poison by the nation's exhibitors. The 
American moviegoer of the early thirties was not yet ready 
for Katharine Hepburn. With the flinty determination of her 
New England heritage, she returned to Broadway and suc- 
ceeded magnificently in The Philadelphia Story, playing the 
part of an eccentric heiress for which she was absolutely 
perfect. She returned to Hollywood in 1939 for the film ver- 
sion which established her forever in the public mind as the 
perfect aristocrat. 

The series of films she made with her good friend, Spencer 
Tracy, films which always revolved around a class conflict, 
in which Mr. Tracy brought the lady down to his realistic 
level and made her like it, solidified her position. Her best 
films of recent years — The African Queen and Summertime 
— have been in a similar vein. 

She remains, in a way, as self-conscious as she was on her 
first day at Bryn Mawr. She knows she is haughty, aloof, 
shy. She also knows that she needs only a man of strength 
and worldliness to tame her shyness and free her spirit from 
the cage of the self and from the inhibitions of society. The 
drama of a Hepburn film, generally speaking, is the drama 
of the change from Katharine to Kate, just as in The Taming 
of the Shrew the drama was in the transformation of Katha- 
rina into Bonny Kate. Miss Hepburn, with her customary 
graceful intelligence, seems to know this. "I was fortunate 
to be born with a set of characteristics that were in public 
vogue," she says, acknowledging that the public of the late 
thirties was eager to see an aristocrat who would desert her 
inbred values for democratic fun. She was, on screen as in 
life, a good sport despite her heritage. 



168 




"I'm a personality as well as an 
actress. Show me an actress who isn't 
a personality, and you'll show me a 
woman who isn't a star." Here is the 
personality with her long-time friend 
and frequent costar, Spencer Tracy, 
and in The African Queen, her best role. 



THE 
ATHLETES 



Movies about team sports have generally proved to be 
financial failures. This is something of an oddity, given the 
American obsession for attending children's games. But in 
the late thirties and early forties, films starring athletes be- 
came consistent box-office successes. These, however, were 
all about individual performers in sports that required ex- 
treme grace of execution. Their appeal was double-edged. 



The camera brought the spectator closer to the performer 
than he ever could have got in the stadium, allowing him to 
study . . . er . . . form. Even more interesting was the 
spectacle of the celebrity from a different medium succeed- 
ing in a new one. 

That these athletic stars were not actors, or even particu- 
larly engaging personalities, did not seem to matter. You 
could hardly understand Sonja Henie, whose accent was as 
thick as her ankles. Johnny Weissmuller's dialogue consisted 
solely of gutturals and a handful of the simpler nouns, pro- 
nouns and verbs, so he got by as an actor, although Elmo 
Lincoln, the first screen Tarzan, was heard to mutter that 
the ape-man seemed "sissified." As for Miss Esther Williams, 
her athletic record was not as distinguished as the others, 
but she was prettier and she could speak English — sort of. 



—I ||H 




I 




Sonja Henie won more Olympic 

skating titles than anyone in 

history, but she never won any 

acting awards. Her thespic 

style was as stolid as her 

skating style was graceful. 






twrfcseqAib- 




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X 



"Glub. Me Tarzan. Glub, glub. You Esther Williams." 
She appears in Pagan Love Song. Johnny Weismuller, 
converted Tarzan from a swinger of vines 
into a water creature, reversing normal evolution. 



The greatest athlete 

ERROL FLYNN 



In his autobiography Errol Flynn remarks, "As I went 
from one picture to another, the stereotyped roles I played 
stamped out of me my ambition to do finer things or to ex- 
pect to be able to do them in Hollywood. When you're young, 
a beginner, you have a contract to fulfill, you have little to 
say about your roles. . . . You're hooked. With time I would 
lose my inner guts, my belief in myself even as an actor." 

Flynn was, on the evidence of his own writing, a sincere 
man lacking the inner conviction to remain serious for very 
long. His answer to the problem of being forever cast in the 
public's mind as Captain Blood or Robin Hood was to 
squabble incessantly with his studio, his women, the roister- 
ing collection of he-men with whom he surrounded himself. 
"I do not know," he wrote, "to what extent this stereotyping 
of me — this handing me a sword and a horse . . . led to my 
rebellions, high jinks and horseplay over the globe, but I 
think it had plenty to do with it." 

There are two phases to his career as an actor and two 
coincident phases in his career as a public personality. In 
phase number one he was a swashbuckler, a laughing cava- 
lier, something like the later Douglas Fairbanks, although he 
lacked the fine edge Fairbanks put on his acrobatics and 
lacked, too, the finer dimensions of chivalry that were pres- 
ent in Fairbanks' films. Flynn, for all his peccadilloes, ad- 
mitted that he did not really like women. Driven to them, he 
was also contemptuous of them. His technique with them, 
on screen and off, was to use the act of love as an act of 
aggression. Apparently his feminine audience sensed this, 
and in an era when they had responded mightily to Cagney's 
mastery of the grapefruit, they responded also to the Flynn 
style of degradation — which was to laugh at them even as 
they pursued him. 

Flynn himself declared that "mostly I walked through my 
pictures." The Flynn walk, however, was equivalent to an- 
other man's run, and his screen character implied the rich- 



172 




Errol Flynn swashes, and Eugene Pallette is about 

to buckle. The movie is The Adventures of Robin Hood. 




173 




Rocky Mountain, obviously one of the star's more painful roles. 



ness of Flynn's remarkably adventurous youth. He was born 
in Tasmania, where his highly conservative father had built 
a distinguished reputation as a marine biologist. Young 
Errol developed an early, strong, and lasting contempt for 
the staid and conservative life of his parents, and most of 
his life may be read as a rebellion against it. Running away 
from school in Australia, Flynn indulged in a life of petty 
crime and petty jobs until he set off for New Guinea, where 
he was briefly an extremely junior colonial officer, a fairly 
successful plantation manager, captain of a coastal sailing 
ship, a hunter for the forbidden bird of paradise, a gold 
miner and, finally a man who stood trial for murder, having 
killed a native participating in a raid on one of his jungle 
camps. Eventually he settled down to start a tobacco planta- 
tion, but he was no sooner embarked on that career than a 
small-time movie maker whom he had met in his wanderings 
telegraphed him an offer to appear in a film called In the 
Wake of the Bounty. Nothing came of the job immediately, 
but Flynn, smuggling a few diamonds to help out with his 
expenses, wandered by the most circuitous possible route to 
England where, eventually, he found work as an actor with 
the Northampton Repertory Company. The company, along 
with many others, went to Stratford one summer to appear 
in tbe drama festival and two of its productions were se- 
lected for showing in the West End. There Flynn was spotted 
by a Warner's scout. His first Hollywood part was as a corpse 
in The Case of the Curious Bride. Shortly thereafter, the 
studio took a chance on two unknowns, Flynn and Olivia 
de Havilland, as the romantic leads in Captain Blood. The 
picture and the two young players were wildly successful. 



By 1937, Flynn had, with The Adventures of Robin Hood, 
consolidated his position as the screen's leading costume 
romantic. 

Success, however, did not change the basic rebelliousness 
of his nature. He believed, with considerable justification, 
that he was underpaid, he disliked his parts, his marriage to 
Lili Damita was little more than a lengthy squabble. He 
poured a good deal more energy into his off-screen pecca- 
dilloes than he did into his work. Thus was born the great 
Flynn legend, which reached its height at the time of his 
trial on charges of statutory rape. His popularity waning, 
his money slipping through his fingers at an enormous rate, 
Flynn attempted to produce his own films but, in the process, 
suffered a mild heart attack and discovered that he now 
lacked the nerve to perform the feats of derring-do on which 
he had built his career. 

He slipped into a drifting, aimless retirement, a used-up, 
washed-up profile. Then, suddenly, in the late fifties, he 
emerged as a character actor of considerable skill. As he 
had played his youthful self in the early days, he now began 
to play his mature self — a faded, somewhat alcoholic, faintly 
comic, and very weary old roue. The old gallantry was still 
present, but it was edged with the oddly dignified pathos of 
the man who is suddenly, shockingly aware of his mortality. 
He did fine work in The Roots of Heaven, The Sun Also 
Rises and as John Barrymore in Too Much, Too Soon. He 
died of a heart attack in 1960, not long after composing his 
own epitaph: "I want to be taken seriously. ... I allow 
myself to be understood abroad as a colorful fragment in a 
drab world." 



174 





The many moods of Flynn. Above, he is at 
his most suavely elegant. Left, his exertions 
have told on him. Below, he at last has a good 
role — in The Sun Also Rises. Mel Ferrer is 
seen helping him to his feet after an 
unfortunate encounter with a bull at Pamplona. 




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175 



JOHN GARFIELD Depression's child 




John Garfield in Under My Skin (1950), screen version of Hemingway's "Twenty Grand." 



"If HE wasn't WINNING, he didn't know who he was." Thus 
the character of John Garfield as seen by a director who 
worked closely with him. Garfield was a tough, vital young 
man from the streets of New York, a graduate of the Neigh- 
borhood Playhouse and of the Group Theater to which he had 
brought a burning desire to learn the craft and the mystique 
of acting. Actually, Garfield was a natural — strong, sexy, 
motivated by a driving ambition that charged every part he 
ever played with his own restlessness and energy. Beneath 
the energy, but not obscured by it, one sensed a sweetness 
that made his ambition palatable. He was, to reverse the 
formula, a bad good man, wicked only in a boyish way. 

A nice fellow hustling to improve himself, he was excellent 
in films like Body and Soul, in which he played a character 
much like himself. Temporarily bemused by the success 
ethic, the young fighter found himself groping in confusion 
for the values his better self sensed but could not practically 



define. On screen Garfield reflected much of the urge for 
social mobility of a generation unsure as to whether the 
picket line or the night school would provide it. 

Garfield himself was confused by the stardom thrust so 
suddenly upon him after he deserted the Group for the 
movies. That rather self-righteous collection of actors ac- 
tually held a meeting to register their disapproval of Gar- 
field's trip to Hollywood. Among his grievances was the 
Group's absurd failure to cast him as Golden Boy, relegating 
him to a minor part where he could watch the miscast Luther 
Adler do a part for which Garfield was born. The Group may 
have polished Garfield's talent, but its lingering effect on him 
was to create doubts about the value of his work, the reality 
of his talent. Its influence robbed him of the chance to enjoy 
the movie stardom which a part of his personality craved. 
He died of a heart attack in 1952. He was thirty-nine. 



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ORSON WELLES The last typhoon 




Welles directed his wife, Rita Hayworth, in The Lady from Shanghai (1948). 



Kenneth Tynan once remarked that Orson Welles was "a 
superb bravura director, a fair bravura actor, and a limited 
bravura writer; but an incomparable bravura personality." 
Which is a fair bravura summary of the man. 

He came to the movies out of the theater, which he had 
come to after years of youthful wandering. The only prosaic 
thing about him was the place of his birth — Kenosha, Wis- 
consin. His mother was an aesthete, and his father was a 
sometime inventor who liked to hang around the lower 
levels of show business — with magicians, vaudevillians, ham 
actors of gaslight melodrama. His parents separated, and 
Welles spent his childhood first traveling with his mother, 
and after she died, drifting with his father. From her he 
acquired his taste for the finer things; from him he got 



his passion for the cruder forms of theatricality. 

His father died when Orson was fourteen; then, quitting 
school, he began to weave together the two disparate strands 
of his heritage. He traveled in the inconvenient ways a young 
man in search of himself adopts. He worked briefly at 
Dublin's Gate Theater, fought bulls in Spain, got his first 
American acting job with Katharine Cornell in Romeo and 
Juliet, then, in the depths of the depression, still in his early 
twenties, he went to work for the WPA's Federal Theater 
Project. There quickly followed the famous Mercury Thea- 
ter and his celebrated radio adaptation of H. G. Wells's 
War of the Worlds, the furor over which quite overshadowed 
the valuable and exciting work he and his little troupe were 
doing in the barely living theater. Now a public figure, he 



Welles in the title role of his directorial masterpiece, Citizen Kane. 



179 





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A typically Wellesian angle on Citizen Kane. Ray Collins plays a departing political boss. 



180 



was plucked from the vine, exactly ripe, by Hollywood. 

Welles was ready for Hollywood, but Hollywood was not 
ready for Welles. Today, lesser men than he regularly cause 
more turmoil in the studios with their independent produc- 
tions, without producing works of comparable stature. But 
Hollywood then was completely dominated by the studio 
system and was unused to dealing with a man of the Gargan- 
tuan talents and appetites of Welles. He brought Citizen 
Kane in on time and at reasonable cost. He did the same 
with The Magnificent Ambersons. He was not, except in 
manner and talent, a profligate like Von Stroheim, and he 
made films that reputable critics believed to be utterly 
unique. It was a measure of Hollywood's lack of imagination 
that they still seem avant-garde when viewed today, though 
more than twenty years have intervened. He made other 
films after these masterpieces, and not one of them failed to 
be interesting. Some critics said his films were too self- 
conscious. In a way that is true. He insisted on calling atten- 
tion to the fact that they were, indeed, movies, that is to say, 
art objects. This ran counter to common film practice, which 



is to be artless in its realism. Only now is the European 
avant-garde beginning to follow the Wellesian aesthetic. 

Eventually, he left America for good, plagued by tax trou- 
bles, more deeply plagued by mediocrities who insisted on 
judging him either by a balance sheet or by standards of art 
too ordinary for applicability to his bursting talent. He said 
recently, "The cinema has no boundary; it is a ribbon of 
dream." More than any American since Griffith, he stretched 
that ribbon — almost to the breaking point. 

Welles is a star, not because of any single part he played, 
but because he was a total movie maker who stamped his 
personality on entire films, because he insisted on using a 
medium of group creation as a means for a uniquely indi- 
vidual expression — which expression, we tend to forget (be- 
cause of the artistic excitement they caused), was pro- 
foundly related to the new political and social values of New 
Deal America. Many film makers have made interesting 
social comments; a few have made great personal state- 
ments. Only Welles has combined both in our time. 





Later Welles. Left, as Harry Lime in Sir Carol Reed's fine 
thriller, The Third Man. Above, as he appeared in Touch 
of Evil, the last movie he directed for Hollywood. It was 
a wonderful study of bottom-of-the-barrel corruption. 



181 



FIVE 



PART FIVE 



HEROES 



It is a regrettable fact of life in that we in America 
have produced few heroes. One searches in vain for a man 
who has attained true heroic stature since 1945. One 
reason for this seems fairly obvious: the complexity of our 
institutions tends to limit the role of the individual — he may 
contribute, but it is impossible for him to dominate. 

Robert W. White, the psychologist, has suggested that the 
inability of the individual "to make things happen" is one 
of the sources of neurosis in modern society. This being true, 
it is not surprising to find that no truly heroic new person- 
alities have appeared on the screen in the postwar years, and 
that we have clung, through those years, to a handful of 
aging superstars who established their screen characters in 
the thirties. 

There are, of course, purely technical reasons for the 
longevity of these stars. With the decline of the studio system 
in Hollywood it became increasingly difficult to build a 
youthful personality by carefully placing him in roles which 
would reinforce a predetermined image. For the most part, 
the screen actor today free-lances from studio to studio, 
taking whatever roles are remunerative and within his range. 
In addition, the B picture, traditional training ground for 
young stars, has virtually disappeared, and there is no in- 
expensive way to determine which roles a young man may 
play best and which aspects of his character can be used as 
the basis for the creation of a strong screen personality. 

Then, too, the old idea that whatever acting a star does 
should take place within the boundaries of a strong, previ- 
ously well-defined personality is now held in considerable 



contempt. Finally, it is almost impossible, in our cynical 
times, to undertake the kind of publicity build-up that would 
give an embryo star a suitably romantic and larger-than-life 
off-screen prsonality. Everyone today wants to know what he 
is "really" like, and so the would-be star submits to public 
psychoanalysis, even seems to enjoy the process. To adapt 
an old saw, "No man is a hero to his analyst." 

The five stars dealt with in the following sections created 
strong and appealing public personalities during the thirties. 
They had the opportunity to play, over and over again, roles 
similar to one another, thereby creating strong images of 
themselves — images which lingered in the minds of a large 
pool of fans who, despite television and other distractions, 
were willing to seek out these now aging creations in new 
films. They achieved, as a result, their greatest financial suc- 
cesses in the forties and fifties. Careful professionals who 
knew how to guard their images, they remained enigmatic, 
preferring to allow the audience to gather, from the hints 
they carefully supplied, its own ideas about who and what 
they were. In so doing they tapped the collective American 
unconscious and became repositories and symbols of our 
longing for heroism in its various forms and settings. 

The thirties may well pass into our history as the last age 
in which it still seemed possible for the individual to become, 
through his own efforts, a moral and physical hero. The fact 
that in the forties and fifties all of these stars — Cooper, 
Bogart, Gable, Tracy, Stewart — became the objects of al- 
most cultish, surely nostalgic, hero worship indicates our 
knowledge that something is missing from our age. 



183 






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GARY COOPER 



Gary Cooper was, by common consent, the archetypal 
American. Just before he died he said: "Everybody asks me 
how come you're around so long. Well, I always attribute it 
to playing the part of Mr. Average Joe American. Just an 
average guy from the middle of the U.S.A. And then, I guess 
I got to believe it . . . Gary Cooper, an Average Charlie who 
became a movie actor." 

Cooper, as he undoubtedly knew, was oversimplifying in 
this summation. For instance, there was the matter of his 
appearance. He was, by any standard, a handsome man. Yet, 
by his manner, Cooper depreciated the fact. This was not 
because of any false modesty. It was rather an insistence on 
the subordination of superficials to matters of deeper import. 
He seemed to sense that it was essential for his audience to 
be comfortable in his presence. He preferred, for reasons of 
both art and personal taste, understatement. His way was to 
imply strength rather than to insist upon it. 

His first important assignment was in The Winning of 
Barbara Worth (1926), and his big scene was with Ronald 
Colman, the actor Cooper most admired. He was to die in 
Colman's arms, and he received this bit of advice from the 
Englishman: "Easy does it, old boy. Good scenes make good 
actors. Actors don't make a scene. My own feeling is that all 
you have to do is take a nap, and every woman who sees the 
picture is going to cry her eyes out." 

Cooper napped — and scored his first major success. 
Through the years he developed this technique of non-acting 
to its highest point. One of his last directors, Anthony Mann, 
said, "Something in those eyes tells you fantastic things. I've 
directed many stars, but never have I seen such eyes. They 
are at once electric, honest, devastating. And he knows how 
to look through them. . . . No one can so graphically re- 
veal his thoughts by the look on his face." 

The thoughts of Cooper's screen character turned often to 
the question of morality. He believed in the standard Ameri- 
can variety, and he took it seriously, as a code to live by. 
The drama of a Cooper film arose from the conflict between 
a man who based his conduct on the commonly accepted 
code and those who claimed they did, but actually proceeded 
on a business-as-usual basis. From this stemmed the im- 
mutability of Cooper's appeal. He behaved as we would have 

Gary Cooper in his Academy Award-winning 
performance in Sergeant York (1941). 




One of Cooper's first successes, Lilac Time, (1928) ivith Colleen Moore. 



185 






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One American folk hero plays 
another. Cooper as Lou Gehrig, in 
Pride of the Yankees. Below, he 
Americanizes a different sort 
of hero, Venetian traveler Marco 
Polo. Ernest Truex plays the 
man who doesn't like firecrackers. 





186 



Cooper as a Hemingway hero, Frederick Henry, in A Farewell 

to Arms. Critics found much in common between Hemingway's literary 

vision and Cooper's screen character. Adolphe Menjou is Coop's 

sophisticated companion. The legs do not belong to costar Helen Hayes. 



liked to behave were not the world too much with us. 

But there was more to the matter than this. The thing that 
really riled Cooper was invasion of privacy. The suspense in 
a classic Cooper film was generated by seeing how much 
abuse he would take before, at long last, and with great 
weariness, he would unwind his lanky frame and go after his 
tormentors. It was his habit to exhaust all manner of rational 
appeal, even exhibit a willingness to submit to unmanning 
abuse, before strapping on his guns. Abstract principle was 
all right, and he would defend it, but more often he rose to 
defend himself and his conception of himself. 

High Noon was a perfect example of this. He stayed to 
fight the bandit gang not for the sake of the town, which had 
long since proved itself unworthy of the effort, not for any 
social abstraction, but because the gang posed a supreme 
threat not only to his health but to his personal morality. He 
fought to defend his right to self-determination, his right to 
be himself as he wanted to be. 

Cooper's screen personality was the honest product of a 



man noted for giving fair measure in his dealings both as 
a professional and as an individual. The career was a master- 
piece of understatement and of timing, for Cooper managed 
it himself, shrewdly altering the externals of setting, cos- 
tume, even film genre, but always making sure he touched 
home base every two or three pictures. A native of the West, 
personally a devotee of its outdoor amusements, he made 
certain that the intervals between Westerns were never long. 
He knew as well as any one that his roots were there. "It's 
always been a question," he told writer Thomas Morgan, 
"whether to let the public see what they expect or whether 
you should give them something new. It always comes up. 
There are things Gary Cooper shouldn't do, things that offer 
great opportunities actingwise . . ." 

He was rather better in comedy than one expected; he was 
superb as a Hemingway hero (a man, as Leslie Fiedler 
pointed out, with virtually the same values as the screen 
Westerner). In short, he extended his range more than he 
would have had to, and perhaps this was one of the reasons 




for his undiminishing popularity. More than other actors of 
similar limitations, he offered as many variations on his 
basic theme as possible. He guarded his screen self jealously, 
and he once declared: "An oil man is allowed to deplete 27 
per cent annually as the oil is used up. An industrialist can 
depreciate his equipment as it ages. Now all I have to sell 
is me — this body of mine. If it's maimed or broken I can't 
work. And it ages just as certainly as machine tools. But do 
they let me depreciate it? Heck, no." 

The thought is not as important as the image — that of an 
entrepreneur handling a difficult enterprise with all the 
canniness at his command. He did that with a curious, en- 
gaging lack of ego. He was here, as in his screen roles, the 
easy, confident professional, so good at what he did that the 
doing was the only self-assertion he needed to make. The 
rewards were inherent in the means, although of course the 
ends were pleasant enough — and Cooper seemed to revel in 
being the well-tailored, quietly cultured international celeb- 
rity at home in salons both social and artistic. 

He was not, of course, a simple cowhand. His family was 
well-to-do, his father a justice of the Montana Supreme Court 
and a gentleman rancher. Cooper learned the ways of the 
Westerner as a boy, but he also spent three years in an 
English public school. He went to college for three years and 
thought of becoming a commercial artist. Visiting his fam- 
ily in Los Angeles (where his father was working on a case), 
he ran into old ranch friends who were working as stunt 
riders in silent Westerns. He joined them and, through a 
combination of circumstance and intelligent self-interest, 
won his role in Barbara Worth. 

A starring role in a medium-budget Western, a memorable 
bit in Wings as a doomed flier, and co-starring roles with 
Clara Bow and Lupe Velez brought him to the sound barrier 
as a rising star. His first sound film, The Virginian, was, as 
he said, "the big one — you had to survive the transition to 
talking pictures. The Virginian put me over the hump and 
made millions." It also was a film with a great deal of "yup" 
and "nope" dialogue. In his late years Cooper banned both 
words from his scripts. There was no point in giving grist to 
the joke mills. Like his heroes, he took no foolish chances — 
only calculated risks. 



The film, of course, is Fred Zinnemanns 

High Noon. For his portrayal 

Cooper won his second Academy Award. 



188 





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HUMPHREY 
BOGART 



"Speculative, sardonic, sourly lisping" Humphrey Bo- 
gart lived in a gray area where you could arrest him if you 
cared to apply the law's letter or sympathize with him if you 
were broad-minded. The legality of the character he played 
was less important than the central fact of his existence — 
which was loneliness. The Westerner was lonely, too, but that 
was a matter of choice; he valued solitude, even needed its 
restorative quality. Bogart's loneliness was edged by desper- 
ation and was accompanied by that special kind of unshaven 
squalor that is the mark of bachelorhood in a modern Ameri- 
can city — unscraped dishes in the sink, rye whisky in the file 
drawer of the desk, a scrambled newspaper tented crazily on 
the floor next to the ugly, worn, comfortable easy chair com- 
manding views of the television set and the bedroom of the 
pretty girl who lives across the airshaft and draws the shades 
carelessly when she undresses. 

His special knowledge was of the jungle of the city at 
night — which clubs the syndicate ran, which one-arm restau- 
rants served good coffee, which hotels a whore could use, 
which streets were safe to walk upon after midnight. It was 
this detailed knowledge that set Bogart apart from the ordi- 
nary lonely male; it was the Tightness of setting, mood and 
dialogue that established our empathy with him. It was the 
toughness — and the supreme self-reliance — with which he 
met loneliness that established this unlikely character as a 
screen favorite. 

Bogart, in his early incarnation as a gangster, lacked the 
dimension of tragedy which Warshow found in the work of 
Cagney and Robinson. He was neither charming nor espe- 
cially megalomaniacal. Lacking the cheerful, All-American 
bounce of Cagney's psychotic, he was much more the brood- 
ing outsider. He also lacked Robinson's drive for power, and 
you could not blame society for his malformed character. 
His was a purely personal, purely psychological defect. 

He switched to the side of the law, more or less, in John 




190 



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77ie role that made Bogart famous, Duke Mantee in The Petrified Forest. 





Huston's brilliant The Maltese Falcon in 1940. In the first — 
and still the greatest — private-eye film, he was, as Tynan 
says, "still the same wry brute, but more insidiously immoral 
since now there was a righteous justification for his sav- 
agery." World War II killed the gangster film, and with one 
or two notable exceptions the genre has stayed dead. Public 
interest in domestic criminals was, of course, quite blotted 
out by the scope of the crimes committed in the course of 
war, and the war itself offered movie makers an unparalleled 
backdrop for adventure. The gangster drama suddenly 
seemed very small potatoes indeed. The decline of murder- 
ous gangs in the postwar years (the nation's criminals, ac- 
cording to mythology, having become more subtle and busi- 
nesslike in their operations) made the old-style crime films 
seem rather quaint. 

Bogart's basic character was more adaptable than that of 
other members of the screen underworld, it being the prod- 
uct of inner, rather than societal, forces. In the war years 
his weary, saturnine presence, informed by his terrible 
awareness of both his own and the world's weaknesses, was 



enlisted in the cause of the Allies. His devotion to that cause 
was frequently ambiguous, as in Casablanca. Like Cooper's 
Man of the West, Bogart could get interested in a fight for 
justice or principle only when his own, direct stake in the 
outcome was made painfully clear to him. He reacted with 
surly suspicion when someone appealed to his better nature. 
"Nobody gets the best of Fred C. Dobbs," he snarled in 
the postwar Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and the remark 
was echt Bogart. His loneliness was based on suspicion 
of everyone's motives, and the statement of this basic fact 
was the everlasting theme of his life's work. It accounted 
for his defensive inwardness, his unbreakable facade. 

His screen personality formed an interesting contrast with 
Cooper's Westerner, as well as with the sunny city man first 
projected by Fairbanks. Cooper's silences were open, even 
friendly and respectful. Bogart's were glowering, neuroti- 
cally inspired. He was painful evidence of what the city can 
do to a man, how it can brutalize and wound his sensibility, 
rob him of all emotion except a cheap sentimentality. And, 
because he was usually found scraping along in some mar- 



192 




Bogart in Beat the Devil, the 
John Huston-Truman Capote satire 
on adventure movies, which Bogart 
himself did not appreciate but 
which found a small but fanatically 
loyal audience. Jennifer 
Jones appears at the left. 



Bogie and Baby in The Big Sleep, 
1 one of action director Howard Hawks' 's 
best films. In it Bogart had one 
of his perfect roles, as Raymond 
Chandler's private eye, Philip Marlowe. 




"Nobody gets the best of 
Fred C. Dobbs." Bogart 
in another fine Huston 
film, The Treasure of 
the Sierra Madre (1947). 






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/Vo one /iMec/ a trench coat better than Bogart. Here he appears in The Barefoot Contessa. 



194 



ginal business enterprise, as proprietor of a night club or a 
detective agency, he was a bitter parody of the up-and-at-'em 
values of the Fairbanks character. Bogart, one sensed, had 
found that technique terribly wanting, an experience which, 
along with a string of love affairs gone sour, accounted for 
the resemblance of his face to a closed fist. 

As for Bogart himself, he had little experience of more 
expansive vistas than the city afforded. He was the son of 
a well-to-do New York doctor and a successful commercial 
artist named Maude Humphrey. One of her works, of Bogie 
as a beautiful baby, had adorned the packages of a well- 
known brand of baby food. After restless and cursory school- 
ing, Bogart joined the Navy in World War I, acquiring, 
when his ship was shelled, the partly paralyzed upper lip that 
accounted for his deadly lisp and the tight set of his mouth. 

He is credited with uttering, for the first time anywhere, 
the immemorial cry of the stage juvenile, "Tennis, anyone?" 
in one of his youthful Broadway appearances in the twenties. 
He had no notable success in his first try at the movies and 
had to return to Broadway and the part of Duke Mantee in 
The Petrified Forest before Hollywood paid any attention 
to him. Even then, Leslie Howard had to threaten to with- 
draw from the film version if Warner's refused to cast him. 

From that point on, the tensely knotted Bogart personality 
was never absent from the screen. Close observers saw the 
new dimension Bogart brought to the tough-guy part. Said 
Jerry Wald: "Bogart was liked by audiences because he had, 
in the toughest gangster roles, a pathetic quality . . . He 
always gained sympathy." Said Stanley Kramer: "He had 
the damnedest facade of any man I ever met in my life. He 
was playing Bogart all the time, but he was really a big, 
sloppy bowl of mush." 

Lauren Bacall, his wife, thought he was "truly a gentle 
soul . . . this was a rather old-fashioned fellow. He really 
believed in the original concept of the home and a wife's 
place in the home." Nunnally Johnson said, "He never 
stopped thinking how he could stir things up . . . He was 
an ingrained mischief maker." In short, all the things that 
contributed to his screen character were part of the natural 
Bogart — the odd belief in chivalry, so frequently disap- 
pointed that it was masked by cynicism, the almost sadistic 
streak of gallows humor, the sentiment that motivated the 
decent acts of his screen character. Bogart himself declared 
that his method was "to give the impression I'm not act- 
ing. . . . You think it. If you think it, you'll look it. If you 
feel sorry, you'll look sorry." 

The result was summed up by a man who knew best what 







Bogart's Academy Award winning performance in the brilliant 
adventure-comedy-romance, The African Queen (1951). 

Bogart was trying to do. Raymond Chandler, creator of one 
of Bogart's best roles (Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep), 
declared: ' Bogart can be tough without a gun. Also, he has 
a sense of humor that contains that grating undertone of 
contempt. Ladd is hard, bitter and occasionally charming, 
but he is after all a small boy's idea of a tough guy. Bogart 
is the genuine article. Like Edward G. Robinson, all he has 
to do to dominate a scene is to enter it." 



195 



CLARK GABLE 



When Clark Gable died, the New York Times editorial- 
ized: "Gable was as certain as the sunrise. He was consist- 
ently and stubbornly all Man." There was nothing enigmatic 
about him. He was, for two generations, the popular ideal of 
the American male, open, uncomplicated, tough yet gentle, 
an appreciator of the simple American pleasures — rare 
steak, raw whisky, racy women. 

Gable was a rare screen star in that he appealed strongly 
and equally to both sexes. Men saw in him a good com- 
panion for a carouse, a fight, an all-night poker session. 
Women saw in his lopsided grin the eternal small boy who, 
according to mythology, resides in all men. He might be 
rough at times, but they knew he could be gentled and if, 
from time to time, they were wise enough to let him roam 
free they could be sure he would return, probably looking 
a little sheepish. His appeal was all on the surface. He did 
not hide his strength under a lazy exterior like Cooper and, 
unlike him, there was no moral fervor lurking beneath the 
surface. Quite the opposite: he was rather devilishly amoral. 
He made no statement beyond that which was immediately 
apprehended upon his first entrance in a film. 

But for all his simple masculine appeal, there was one 
intriguing feature about the parts Gable played. He per- 
formed a sexual function that neither Bogart nor Cooper 
usually attempted. Bogart's relationship with women was 
hostile, Cooper's remotely chivalrous, and neither was any- 
thing but superficial, almost casual, with women. They had 
more important things in mind. But Gable's screen charac- 
ter was built upon his ability to cut across class lines to 
accomplish the sexual awakening of frigid, upper-class 
women. 

His first important role, in A Free Soul ( 1930 ) , cast him 
as a gangster who humbled proud Norma Shearer with, 
among other things, a sharp right to the jaw. He accom- 
plished much the same thing in Red Dust ( 1932 ) for Mary 
Astor, though he gave her up for tough, good-guyish Jean 
Harlow. Some twenty years later, in a remake of Red Dust 
called Mogambo, he proved the agelessness of his appeal, by 
knocking the same kind of sexual sense into proud, chilly 



The King. The film, of course, is Gone With the Wind. 




Gable and wife, Carole Lombard. 



197 




Gable with Joan Crawford in The Dancing Lady. 



Grace Kelly. And, of course, he contributed the definitive 
portrait of the irresistible nature of low lustiness as Rhett 
Butler in Gone with the Wind. 

Interestingly, in his own marriages he was torn between 
the chilly sophisticates and the down-to-earth types. Life 
being unlike a screen play, he found happiness only with 
the latter type — Carole Lombard and Kay Williams. 

It is easy enough to understand why Gable was elected 
"King" of Hollywood in a poll of editors conducted by Ed 
Sullivan in 1938. Though his films carried far less social 
commentary than those of Cooper and Bogart, he was very 
much an expression of a nation's feelings during the Depres- 
sion Decade. Gable elicited an immediate and direct re- 
sponse from his audiences, though he played almost exclu- 
sively in highly irrelevant films — lightweight comedies and 
adventures, both historical and contemporary, that had little 
to do with the great questions of the day. 

He was a roguish, down-to-earth, adventurous man, and 



a major part of his appeal was his lack of roots. Gable was 
at home everywhere — in oil fields, in city streets and pent- 
houses, astride a horse, in sundry jungles, in any historical 
era. Everywhere he was the democratic man, both in his 
contempt for the alleged thinness of aristocratic blood and 
in his envious attraction to the good, soft life of the upper 
classes. He nearly always played a self-made man and the 
role carried with it a built-in contempt for the man who 
inherited his wealth or was not driven by the same lust for 
life that motivated him. 

As for women, it was always a toss-up whether, having 
forced a high-born heroine to admit the earthy urgency of 
her desires, he would be satisfied or, having accomplished 
this task, would abandon her for the common woman who 
understood all this in her bones and could please him with- 
out need of his night-school courses in the art of love. 

How appealing all this was! The men, of course, saw in 
Gable a man capable of living a life of adventure and easy 



198 




With Norma Shearer in 
Strange Interlude (1932). He 
had become a star opposite 
her in A Free Soul the year before. 



One of the Oscar-winning moments 
of It Happened One Night (1934). 
Gable, Colbert, film, all won Awards. 





Postwar Gable. With Keenan Wynn in The Hucksters. 



conquest just like the one they themselves conducted in their 
fantasies. The women could lead multiple fantasy lives in 
his pictures. They could imagine, themselves as the aristo- 
cratic ladies first fighting off, then yielding to, his rough 
advances. But, once the picture ended, they could console 
themselves with the knowledge that he was also attracted to 
ordinary women. 

As for Gable himself, his early life was as restless as that 
of one of his screen characters. His father was a roving oil 
field boomer who for the most part left his son to his own 
devices. His mother died not long after giving him birth. 
Periods of prosperity and tranquillity alternated with periods 
of troubled restlessness. A stepmother gentled him and gave 
him what maternal love he experienced. 

When he was fifteen he left his Ohio farm home to work in 
Akron. There he worked backstage with a stock company 
(salary zero) during his free time. He left to join his father 
in the oil fields after his stepmother died, then left that miser- 
able existence for another city and another theatrical troupe. 
It ran out of funds in Butte, Montana, and he drifted to the 
lumber camps and then to Portland, where he met Josephine 
Dillon, director of a local stock company. Eventually they 
married, briefly and unhappily. Together they went to Holly- 



wood, where she worked as a drama coach and he got some 
movie bits. Stock assignments in Los Angeles and Houston, 
work in New York, then the lead in the Los Angeles pro- 
duction of The Last Mi/e— the part which had made Spencer 
Tracy a star in New York — led him back to the movies. 

Now a more polished performer, he had the usual troubles 
securing work ("His ears are too big," cried Jack Warner 
upon seeing a test) but did well enough for M-G-M to take 
a chance on him opposite Shearer in A Free Soul; the theory 
was that he would be too innocuous either to upset or to 
upstage Irving Thalberg's wife. Things did not quite work 
out that way. Four years later Gable was in the box-office 
top ten, was earning $3,500 a week and had won an Acad- 
emy Award for It Happened One Night. "You know," he 
said shortly before he died, "this King stuff is pure bullshit. 
I eat and sleep and go to the bathroom just like everyone 
else. There's no special light that shines inside me and makes 
me a star. I'm just a lucky slob from Ohio. I happened to be 
in the right place at the right time and I had a lot of smart 
guys helping me — that's all." There is more truth than 
modesty to his statement. But he did have, on screen, the 
special arrogance of a man who was comfortably sure of his 
identity and of his untrammeled masculinity. 



200 



Neither door nor woman could withstand the aroused Gable. 



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202 



Tracy plays the flinty judge in Judgment at Nuremberg, for which he received his seventh Oscar nomination. 

First of his successive Academy Award roles, Captains Courageous. 



SPENCER TRACY 



Among his fellow players, Spencer Tracy is regarded as 
the finest screen actor of them all. Gable was on record as 
thinking him the best, and Bogart agreed. "You don't see 
the mechanism working, the wheels turning. He covers up. 
He never overacts or is hammy. He makes you believe he is 
what he is playing." Richard Widmark has said that "in my 
adult years, the man I have admired most in acting is 
Spencer Tracy. What an actor should be is exemplified, for 
me, by him. I like the reality of his acting. It's honest and 
seems so effortless, even though what Tracy does is the re- 
sult of damn hard work and concentration. . . . He doesn't 
talk much about acting, but he knows it all." 

Tracy himself is gruff, grumpy and, on occasion, highly 
temperamental. He growls: "Aw, why don't they leave me 
alone? I am old and fat, and I've got a face like a beat-up 
barn door." Since the beginning of his film career he has 
had the habit of dropping out of sight for days at a time, 






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Boom Town. Gable thought Tracy the screen's best actor. 



sometimes out of rebelliousness at a bad part, sometimes 
just to brood. Preparing a role, he trains like a prize fighter. 
Says one of his friends: "He diets, locks himself in his room 
and won't see anybody. He studies his script until he knows 
it by heart. You'd think every picture was his first — he gets 
so nervous and edgy and unsure of himself." 

Born in Milwaukee, he served in the Navy in World War 
I, returned to finish high school, then went on to Ripon 
College, in Wisconsin. One of his teachers there told writer 
Bill Davidson that "Tracy seemed to find escape from his 
own restlessness in the problems of the characters he was 
playing. He was best at portraying tough, brutal men — 
which he wasn't." 

After little more than a year of college he went to New 
York to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Art. 
He roomed with Pat O'Brien, made his stage debut in R.U.R. 
in 1922. He married in 1923, and with the tragedy of his 
son's total deafness at birth driving him, he began to emerge 
as a reliable stage actor. His portrayal of Killer Mears in 
The Last Mile led to a Hollywood contract in 1930. Cast 
almost permanently as a tough guy, he himself gained a 
reputation as a hard man to handle. Not until he signed with 
M-G-M and played a priest in San Francisco (with Gable and 
Jeanette MacDonald), then the almost-victim of a lynch mob 
in Fury, did he begin to emerge as an actor of considerable 



203 





range. He won Academy Awards in 1937 for Captains Coura- 
geous and in 1938 for Boys Town. In 1941 he was teamed 
for the first time with Katharine Hepburn, with whom he 
has since made seven films and who, according to friends, 
has broadened him intellectually as well as emotionally. 

Miss Hepburn has said she is "a personality as well as an 
actress. Show me an actress who isn't a personality and you'll 
show me a woman who isn't a star. A star's personality has 
to shine through." It is a sound generalization, but more 
difficult to apply to her friend Tracy than to any other con- 
temporary actor. It is impossible to characterize Spencer 
Tracy through a discussion of the kind of role he plays 
(there are too many of them in too many genres) . Of late, he 
has tended toward foxy grandpa parts in which he implies 
much knowledge while saying little. But in the past lie 
straightforward leading-man roles, a quite excellent Dr. Jekyll 
and Mr. Hyde, extremely funny, sexy comic parts, a succes- 
sion of priests, roughnecks, bemused suburban husbands and 
criminals. To all of these roles he has brought some uniquely 
personal appeal, one which has made him an indestructible 
star. But what is it? You cannot describe his gruff, bluff, 
reasonable, humorous screen presence and let it go at that. 
There is something more to Tracy. 



It can be seen clearly in Bad Day at Black Rock, his best 
picture of recent years. In it he plays a gentle, inexplicably 
sad city man who, on a sentimental errand, encounters aston- 
ishing hostility' in a small, desolate desert town. He slides 
affably along, turning the other cheek, until at long last the 
town's leading bully, played by Ernest Borgnine, insists on 
drawing him into a fight. Tracy, for purposes of the script, 
has only one usable arm, but in a burst of action lasting little 
more than a minute on the screen, he utterly destroys 
Borgnine. In the process, he hardly moves; there is only the 
vicious chop of his arm, delivering karate blows with deadly, 
angry precision while Tracy's impassive face registers nothing 
— except, perhaps, a tiny flicker of contempt. 

Here is the essential Tracy, in effortless control of himself 
and the situation, implying the deepest kind of emotion, but 
insisting on nothing. All his energy is focused on the task at 
hand; there are no irrelevant emotions. As an actor he never 
generalizes, he concentrates fiercely on his specific, immedi- 
ate objective. The result is the subtle revelation of inner ten- 
sion. It is in conflict with his surface control, and out of this 
conflict he generates the energy of his typical performance, 
the energy which draws the attention of the audience irresist- 
ibly to him. 



204 



Father of the Bride, morning, afternoon and evening. 




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. 



JAMES STEWART 



James Stewart has grown up under the eyes of the entire 
nation, but like the favorite son whose maturity is never quite 
believed in, he remains "Jimmy," and in the mind's eye, he 
is forever the gawky, awkward, slow-speaking, whiny-voiced 
youth of his prewar comedy successes. In truth, however, 
Mr. James Stewart, now fifty-four, a general in the Air Force 
Reserve, a sure-footed businessman who was among the first 
Hollywood stars to work out a percentage-of-the-profits ar- 
rangement on his movies, has not made an awkward move in 
years. And, although the power he can generate as an actor 
is not generally commented upon domestically, he won the 
Venice Film Festival award for best actor for his work in 
Anatomy of a Murder ( 1959). Like most of his work since 
1945, his performance as a small-town lawyer was raw, edgy 
and full of nervous energy. 

Indeed, it was the nervousness that first set Stewart apart 
from other stars who came to prominence in the thirties play- 
ing vox populi roles. Most of them — Cooper, Fonda, Randolph 
Scott, John Wayne- — played with commanding quietness. It 
took a great deal to stir them, and some of them still had sleep 
in their eyes even as they finally rose to their climactic action. 
Stewart was never like that. He was certainly shy, but he was 
also eager, to the point of falling all over himself. He wished 
desperately to please the girl, to do the right thing. He was 
easily diverted from his primary objectives and frequently 
was hoodwinked, but in the end, and with a puppyish kind 
of scramble, he would achieve his objectives. 

Most of his early films were, in effect, studies in the learn- 
ing process. By trial and error Stewart was initiated into the 
ways of the world, and the climax was usually achieved when 
Stewart, his integrity still intact, but his illusions dissipated, 
attained his ambition without losing himself. In a sense, he 
played a modern variant on that favorite American legend, 
the Horatio Alger tale. Everything was pluck and luck with 
him, and although he was a most appealing fellow, he was 
not, as a rule, a prime mover of the plot. Things happened to 
him, and though it was possible for him, in his inept way, to 
convert good luck to bad (or vice versa) , he was more a re- 
actor than an originator. In his befuddlement over what was 
happening to him, he symbolized the feelings of a good many 
Americans in troubled times; in his good nature, and in his 
clinging to the rural virtues which the very sound of his voice 
summoned up, he was a reassuring link with the world of 
Norman Rockwell paintings, large families, comfortable 



206 



Stewart as the barefoot boy with cheek . . . 




homes, small-town pleasures and romanticized adolescence. 

There was nothing accidental in this. Stewart's father was 
the inheritor and proprietor of the hardware store in Indiana, 
Pennsylvania, and Stewart learned from him frugality, piety, 
devotion to such ideals as patriotism and service, and, of 
course, the quiet sense of humor which has worn so well. 
His interests as a child were both athletic and artistic. At 
Mercersburg Academy he went out for football and track, but 
he also was art editor of the yearbook and active in the 
orchestra, glee club and dramatic group. He went on to 
Princeton, as his father had before him, and studied archi- 
tecture. In the Triangle Club, the dramatic society, there was a 
fantastic flux of talent at the time. Joshua Logan, Jose Ferrer, 
Myron McCormick and BretaigneWindust were all at Prince- 
ton, and Stewart worked with them. Billy O'Grady, M-G-M's 
chief talent scout, saw one of their performances, in which 
Stewart was one of a number of female impersonators, and 
remembered him as "the only one who didn't ham it up." 

Logan roomed with Stewart on one of the club's tours and 
begged him to try acting as a career. Stewart insisted that 
he could not go against his father's wishes. Logan asked him 
if he couldn't at least try summer stock with him, with the 
now-famous University Players in Falmouth, Massachusetts. 
Stewart said he had promised to clerk in the hardware store 
back home. Logan finally said, "If you won't call your father 
and ask him, I will." At that Stewart got on the phone and 
persuaded his father to let him try. In addition to the Prince- 
ton contingent (minus Ferrer) the players included, in the 
summer of 1932, Henry Fonda, Margaret Sullavan and Kent 
Smith. There has probably never been a stock company with 
so many successful graduates. 

That summer a play called Goodbye Again had a pre- 
Broadway tryout at Falmouth, and Stewart had two lines. 
As a chauffeur, he was called upon to enter, say, "Mrs. 
Mainwaring's car is waiting." After being told to wait, he 
drawled his reply, "Mrs. Mainwaring's going to be sore as 
hell." It wasn't much, but somehow Stewart managed to 
bring down the house with it. A visiting critic from New 
York wrote, "It seems apropos to say a few words about 
James Stewart, a player in this mad piece who is on stage 
for exactly three minutes. Yet before this gentleman exits 
he makes a definite impression on the audience because he 
makes them laugh so hard." 

That fall, after a fling in a flop, Stewart was engaged for 







the film is Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. 



207 







SBS 








ill I " i « ' » u 



Mr. Smith in a state of high, typically American dudgeon over the discovery that there are crooks in high places. 



the same part on Broadway. He had six more roles in the 
next two years and in Yellow Jack was praised for a per- 
formance that was "simple, sensitive and true." Yellow Jack, 
according to one critic, "might have been a more impressive 
spectacle had the other characters taken their cue from Mr. 
Stewart." 

Grady brought him to the Coast to play a reporter in 
Murder Man, Tracy's first picture under his new M-G-M con- 
tract. Stewart was not impressive, being too tall to play a 
character known as Shorty. In his own words, he "was all 
hands and feet and didn't know what to do with either." 
Nevertheless, he made more than twenty-five pictures in the 
next five years, including You Can't Take It with You, Mr. 
Smith Goes to Washington, Destry Rides Again, No Time for 
Comedy and The Philadelphia Story, for which he won the 
Academy Award that went on permanent display in his 
father's hardware store. 



Then, at thirty-three, before America entered the war, 
Stewart joined the Air Corps after a heroic eating bout 
designed to get his weight up over the minimum. He entered 
as a private but, because of his flying skill, rose to colonel, 
leading one thousand plane strikes against Germany. He 
had, in direct contradiction to his screen character, a talent 
for command, and he won the Air Medal and the Distin- 
guished Flying Cross with oak leaf clusters. When he re- 
turned to Hollywood he had a clause inserted in his contract 
which enjoined the studio from exploiting his war record. 

He attempted to resume his old roles, but began to receive 
notices like "Jimmy Stewart is still exuding boyish charm in 
lethal doses." Undoubtedly Stewart himself was tired of the 
old stuff, especially after his wartime accomplishments. At 
any rate, he embarked on a vigorous campaign to change 
his image. In 1948 he played a hard-bitten police reporter in 
Call Northside 777 and the headmaster involved with homo- 



208 



sexuals in Hitchcock's Rope. He returned to Broadway to 
replace Frank Fay in Harvey, then did the screen version 
before going into a string of salty, hard-bitten Westerns, 
notably Winchester '73 and Broken Arrow, some Hitchcock 
suspense dramas and some fair screen biographies — The 
Stratton Story, Carbine Williams, The Glenn Miller Story 
and The Spirit of St. Louis. 

Stewart still gangles and he still drawls — he can't really 
help that. But he is much tougher now, even grizzled-looking 
on occasion. The result is a very appealing screen character, 
much underrated by connoisseurs. The charm of the simple, 
small-town boy is there. One is always certain as to the 
nature of his character's background, the place where he 
learned his values. But the man himself is now a prime 
mover, capable of thinking things out for himself and of 



moving surely to set things right. In Two Rode Together 
(1961) he was, and very convincingly, a corrupt town 
marshal whose home was a bordello, a guide and Indian 
fighter who would take up a search for kidnaped children 
only after he had been handsomely paid in advance for his 
services by the poorest train of immigrants ever rounded up 
by central casting. He had come a long way from being the 
bumbling boy next door. A wonderful world of corruption 
is opening up for his screen characterizations; the irony of 
presenting his drawl and his gawkiness as the mannerisms 
of a tough, cynical and worldly older man is delicious. His 
best work may well lie ahead of him and that, somehow, is 
reassuring. There are precious few male stars of his genera- 
tion left. He may well be, in fact, the last of the great men. 



Mr. Stewart takes his ease on the set of Broken Arrow. 




THE 



PART SIX 



FORTIES 



In Prater Violet, Christopher Isherwood has one of his char- 
acters say: "The film studio of today is really the palace 
of the sixteenth century. There one sees what Shakespeare 
saw: the absolute power of the tyrant, the courtiers, the 
flatterers, the jesters, the cunningly ambitious intriguers. 
There are fantastically beautiful women, there are incom- 
petent favorites. There are great men who are suddenly 
disgraced. There is the most insane extravagance, and 
unexpected parsimony over a few pence. There is enor- 
mous splendor, which is a sham; and also horrible squalor 
hidden behind the scenery. There are vast schemes, aban- 
doned because of some caprice. There are secrets which 
everybody knows and no one speaks of. There are even two 
or three honest advisers. These are the court fools, who 
speak the deepest wisdom in puns, lest they should be taken 
seriously. They grimace, and tear their hair privately, and 
weep." 

The studio described existed in England, but what is of 
interest to us is that the studio-as-palace reached its greatest 
flowering in Hollywood during the war years and, having 
achieved a megalomaniac's dream, almost immediately sub- 
sided. The dream palaces continue to exist, but they are 
inhabited by a race of Lears, surrounded by bright young 
men intent on picking up what profitable baubles they can, 
while the old dynasts dream of those wartime days when 
every week ninety million Americans went out to the movies. 
Hollywood is now a second-class power among industrial 
empires. What is fascinating is that its days of darkest de- 
pression and its days of greatest commercial glory occurred 



during the same decade — the forties — in the wink of an 
historical eye. 

The films of the prosperous period were uniformly me- 
diocre. During the war Hollywood turned out a standard 
product, technically expert, often lushly mounted, but vapid 
in the ways that count — story, direction, character. The so- 
cial unrest of the thirties had produced a good deal of 
restiveness about the standard film formulas, a feeling that 
new times demanded a new seriousness in movies. But war 
and the need to produce escapist entertainment greatly 
heightened the trend toward the safe and sure. In addition, 
with competing amusements curtailed by shortages and ra- 
tioning, the movies found that it was almost impossible to 
produce a film that failed at the box office — unless it were 
a rare try at a serious movie. 

Then came 1947, which was, as Roland Barber put it, 
"a year of decision for the Industry — except that the in- 
dustry didn't know it, made no decision, and thereby sanc- 
tioned its own decline. The product was being shipped out, 
as it had been for the last twenty years, but nobody was 
buying. The American public, after being taken vicariously 
to Stalingrad, Iwo Jima, Buchenwald and Potsdam, was 
suddenly disenchanted about taking itself to the Bijou or 
Orpheum twice a week, come rain, shine or Kay Francis. . . . 
They were also mightily intrigued by a new home appliance 
called television." Hollywood passed the rest of the decade 
in a dither, trying 3-D, wide screen, serious pictures, un- 
serious pictures, big pictures, small pictures, searching for 
the magic formula that would restore its health. 



211 



Lesgirb HEDY LAMARR 




Miss Lamarr before Hollywood (in Ecstasy — when she was still a teen-ager) 



Hedy Lamarr, according to one reputable film history, 
was "the only big new star to emerge at the end of the 
thirties." She was a woman of transcendent beauty and, ap- 
parently, of some wit. "Any girl can be glamorous," she is 
reputed to have said. "All you have to do is stand still and 
look stupid." Miss Lamarr had absolutely no peer at this 
occupation and, following her American debut in Algiers 
(1938), with its famous line, "Come wiz me to the Casbah," 
she became, during the forties, the reigning symbol of mys- 
terious womanhood. Although her enigma was not so deep 
as Garbo's, there is no doubt that she exercised some meas- 
ure of a similar appeal. Parker Tyler declared: "Miss 
Lamarr doesn't have to say 'Yes,' all she has to do is 
yawn. ... In her perfect will-lessness Miss Lamarr is, indeed, 



identified metaphysically with her mesmeric midnight cap- 
tor, the loving male." 

But there was a little bit more to Miss Lamarr than 
that. For, ironically, this masklike beauty belonged to a 
young woman who, in 1931, had gamboled nude before 
the camera* for an avant-garde (and perfectly dreadful) film 
called Ecstasy. She had been little more than a post-nymphet 
at the time of her famous run through the woods and her 
dip in a sylvan pool, but the fact that she had done so gave 
her a spurious wickedness. Perhaps, one thought watching 
her, there was more here than met the eye. Alas, there was 
probably less, but in the war years she symbolized a down- 
beat exoticism. 



212 





and after. She plays Joan of Arc in a multistar history of civilization as 
it looked from the film capital. 



213 



Les girls PIN-UPS 



In World War II we fought for — along with our right 
to boo the Dodgers — the right to worship the American girl. 
Her altar was the barracks wall, and on it her image, in a 
thousand varieties, was pinned up. The intellectuals might 
understand, as Elizabeth Hardwick phrased it, that "this 
naive, friendly surface is a disguise ... a marvelous baroque 
invention masking a soul shriveled by Puritanism and a 
vanity swollen by leisure and jjower." But under stress, the 
ordinary American male discovered that he missed her ter- 
ribly, this "informal, independent, lively" child-woman and 
since she could not be with him in battle, the movies, in a 
burst of patriotism, provided him with literally thousands 
of images of her. 

The pin-up was a curiously sexless creation, neither vamp 
nor virgin. The question of her real sexual proclivities was 
rarely raised. She simply existed to remind the absent male 
of woman as woman. He could invest the image with any 
qualities he personally admired. The result, as far as Holly- 
wood was concerned, was a crop of girls with no striking — 
or durable — characteristics at all. Most of them faded quick- 
ly when the war ended, although some may still be found 
working in road companies, in summer stock or simply as 
"celebrities," known for their "well-knownness," as one 
commentator put it. 

Of them all, Paulette Goddard was the most appealing. 
Chaplin had spotted the one-time Ziegfeld girl when she was 
working for Hal Roach as a bit player, and he cast her as 
the gamine in Modern Times. They were married secretly and 
for one amusing year refused to confirm or deny the fact. 
Chaplin's son, recalling the first time he and his brother met 
her, says, "Syd and I lifted our heads and looked into that 
friendly face with its mischievous, conspiratorial smile 




Ann Sheridan does her bit for publicity. 



and we lost our hearts at once, never to regain them throug t 
all the golden years of our childhood." Miss Goddard djl 
not retain the affection of Chaplin — or of the public — f<jl 
very long. She divorced Chaplin, and by the early fifties si I 
was out of films. In a way it was too bad. Hers was II 
spirited, spunky presence and she asserted something Hill 
a genuine personality at a time when it was difficult to do s r' 

Ann Sheridan was a less individualized creation. Sh . 
arrived in Hollywood from Texas in 1933, winner of 
"search for beauty" contest. The oomph girl's career Wi 
little more than a collection of publicity stills until King 
Row (1941) established her as a player of some impo; 
tance. Throughout the forties she appeared mainly in com* 
dies and musicals, then she, too, disappeared from the fron 
rank of film stars. 

Lana Turner managed to avoid that fate. She, of course 
was the most famous of the drugstore discoveries. Perche« 
on a soda fountain stool, she was asked the time-honore 
question: "How would you like to be in pictures?" an 
Mervyn Leroy cast her in a bit part as the girl who wa 
murdered in the first reel of They Won't Forget, an anti 
lynching drama of 1937. Clad in a tight sweater, Miss Turne 
bounced to fame in mere minutes of screen time. By 194. 
she was a star. Her career dimmed in the fifties, but she ha: 
made a strong comeback in films which ask whether a womai 
over forty can find happiness. She has learned to suffe 
beautifully, and richly tearful future beckons. 



214 




Paulette Goddard manages to 
look fetching despite the rags 
and dirt of Kitty before her 
rise to riches and power. 



Lana Turner in The Prodigal, 
which was prodigal in its waste 
of screen time, Metro's money. 





» •■" 



216 



Les girls 

AND MORE PIN-UPS 



The Misses Lamour and Grable were undoubtedly the top 
pin-up girls of World War II, the latter having a slight edge 
in popularity. She was, for four years, the leading box-office 
attraction of the movies. Her special forte was the backstage 
musical in which her famous legs were put on display on the 
most absurd of pretexts. Miss Grable's beauty — if that is the 
word for it — was of the common sort. Nor did she offer 
much in the way of character or maturity. She was, at best, 
a sort of great American floozie, and her appeal to lonely 
GI's was surely that of every hash-house waitress with whom 
they had ever flirted. 

Miss Lamour, on the other hand, was first offered as a 
unique type — a bird of paradise, if you will. Since it was 
impossible for her to deliver a line with any inflection 
other than that of a child doing a recitation, she was 
shrewdly cast as a monosyllabic South Seas seductress, wild 
and untamed until someone like Jon Hall hove onto the 
scene. 

A former elevator operator, Miss Lamour had been 
crowned Miss New Orleans of 1931 and was a band singer 
before going to Hollywood. She found her metier as foil to 
Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in the Road pictures, where her 
costume— the sarong — was as before, but her character be- 
came rather breezy and brash. 

The two of them, Grable and Lamour, represented demo- 
cratic womanhood's lowest common denominator. It is not 
surprising that they reached the heights of popularity in a 
nation at war to protect democratic values, or that once the 
crisis passed and there was time for the finer things they 
disappeared from view with hardly a trace. 



Miss Grable appears in Coney Island, Miss 
Lamour has hung her sarong on the line — just 
outside the publicity department — to dry. 




The girl as goddess RITA HAYWORTH 




Gene Kelly, Rita Hayworth, Phil Silvers, in Cover Girl. Jerome Kern wrote the music. 



When he came to write his justly famed 1947 Life 
study "The Cult of the Love Goddess in America," Winthrop 
Sargeant focused his attention on Miss Rita Hayworth, then 
the reigning deity. "The fundamental trait of Rita's charac- 
ter is simply the desire to please people," he wrote. "She is 
almost the perfect embodiment of that quality of passivity 
which poets, in more classically minded times, thought of 
as the essence of the female nature. Like the ideal, theoretical 
woman, Rita exerts enormous power by merely existing. 
She causes or inspires action, but she does not act herself, 
except in response to the desires of others." 

Pointing out that Rita stood at the center of a "heroic 
industrial operation," Sargeant found it amazing that she 
was "a rather likable, simple and completely unaffected 
human being." Temperamentally placid, extremely shy, she 
seemed to him to have as her chief aim in life a desire 
to carry out, letter-perfect, the instructions of the many 
people who had taken a hand in creating, out of this daughter 
of a family of Spanish dancers, a symbol of sensuality so 
potent that her likeness was affixed to the first atomic bomb 
the United States tested after World War II. The "ideal mix- 



ture of American girlish health with just a teasing trace 
of Latin dignity and feline exoticism," Miss Hayworth was 
lost in the B-picture jungles until her first husband, a car 
salesman, began her exploitation. She got some good roles, 
then confirmed her position in Fred Astaire musicals and, 
finally, in Cover Girl, a fine, funny musical of the forties. 
Gilda, a melodrama in which she was uninhibitedly erotic, 
added just the right dash of spice to her public image. 

Her marriage to Aly Kahn halted the development of her 
career, and in the early fifties she was replaced as our 
leading love object. In recent years, however, she has re- 
turned to films. There are circles under her eyes now, 
and an indefinable sadness about her presence. She seems, 
on screen, to be a woman who has seen too much, lived too 
hard. There is about her the nobility of a splendid ruin 
glimpsed in twilight, and if anything, she is more delicious 
than ever. She had been the greatest girl of them all, a living 
summary of all our sexy, dreamy ideals. Now she is a 
reminder, for an aging generation, of the generous visions 
of youth. 



218 



Gilda, made in 1946 when Rita reigned supreme as the American love goddess. 






Greer Gar son and Margaret O'Brien 

THE BRAVE ONES 




Madame Curie bears up after discovering her 
husband has radium poisoning. 



All was not escapism in the films of the early forties. Both 
sentiment and heroism were also present in great measure, 
and two actresses made careers out of combining those 
qualities. Both were English and both were, in their ways, 
more than usually talented. 

Greer Garson was discovered by Louis B. Mayer, who 
went to see a London play called Old Music, was disap- 
pointed that it was not about waltz time in Vienna, but 
stayed to be impressed by Miss Garson. He signed her, 
brought her back to Hollywood, but gave her no work. 
Finally, she returned to England to make a brief, poignant 
appearance in Goodbye, Mr. Chips at M-G-M's English 
studios. Brought back to Hollywood, she made Blossoms 
in the Dust (in which she played opposite Walter Pidgeon 
for the first time), then hesitantly accepted the role of 
Mrs. Miniver which Norma Shearer had rejected. That 
epic of tremble-chinned courage was rushed into release 
when President Roosevelt, upon seeing it, urged the pro- 
ducers to get it before the public without delay as a morale 
booster. Miss Garson thereupon entered a long period of 
enduring, in her various screen families, such normal, every- 
day vicissitudes as amnesia and radium poisoning. Once 
the wartime crisis was past, her talent for suffering became 
less important to Hollywood; but she made a comeback 
in 1960 playing brave Eleanor Roosevelt in Sunrise at 
Campobello. 

Little Margaret O'Brien was a pocket Garson, with this 
exception: she was an utterly unaffected and naturally 
charming actress. Journey for Margaret, the story of a cou- 
rageous little war orphan, was her first picture. It was made 
by the interesting B-picture unit at M-G-M which Dore 
Schary headed during the war years, producing such un- 
pretentious, goodhearted (and sentimental) films as Lassie 
Come Home, Joe Smith, American and The War Against 
Mrs. Hadley. In her best films, like the memorable Meet 
Me in St Louis, which was Hollywood at its slickly senti- 
mental best, Margaret O'Brien presented a perfect vision 
of the reality of childhood — its frets, humors, even its small 
neuroses. "She is an uncannily talented child," wrote James 
Agee, "and it is infuriating to see her handled, and gradual- 
ly being ruined, by oafs." 



Journey for Margaret was the beginning of Margaret O'Briens journey to fame. 










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VAN 
JOHNSON 



Johnson in Command Decision. 

If Greer Garson represented the free world's ideal 
mother in the war years, and Margaret O'Brien its idealiza- 
tion of childhood innocence, then Van Johnson and June 
Allyson, who were frequently costarred, represented our 
ideal of promising youth. Both of them broke into show 
business in the choruses of Broadway musicals and both of 
them had a fresh-faced charm, a soft edge of naivety, and 
a wide-open honesty in their presences. 

Johnson made his first movie in 1941, emerged as a star 
of great teen-age appeal (he was called "The Voiceless 
Sinatra") in The War Against Mrs. Hadley. A serious auto 
accident scarred his forehead deeply and almost ended his 
career abruptly. Spencer Tracy saved it by insisting that the 
picture they were then working on, A Guy Named Joe, be 
held up until he recovered. His brush with death seemed, 
briefly, to enhance his career, but unfortunately, and ironi- 



222 



The girl next door 




Allyson in The Stratton Story. 



cally, his audience outgrew him. They aged, but he did not 
seem to. Declaring that he had been a movie star and now 
very much wanted to be an actor, he insisted that "a man 
just gets to his beautiful period when he is forty." His 
trouble was that when he reached that age he did not look 
appreciably different than he had at twenty, and so he had 
trouble sustaining belief in his maturity, despite excellent 
portrayals (Marek in The Caine Mutiny, for instance). 

Miss Allyson faced a similar problem, surmounted it by 
playing the grown-up-and-married version of her former 
screen self, then brought her vaunted sweetness to the part 
of the venomous bitch of The Shrike. It was a delicious com- 
bination — her surface sweetness and the inner viciousness 
of the role. A woman who genuinely dislikes being a star, 
she has not pursued the new career that this role might 
have opened for her. 



JUNE 
ALLYSON 



223 



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flo6 //ope a/ie? friend in The Road to Morocco. 



Bob Hope is the man who adapted the principles of the 
assembly line to the production of humor. He turns out a 
standardized product — topical wisecracks — in a rapid-fire 
stream. There is nothing very elegant about the product; it 
lacks the intricate charm of humor that is carefully hand- 
crafted to express a highly individual point of view. But 
it is a miracle of sheer volume, and in each string of gags 
there is usually at least one that has a seemingly accidental 
perfection. 

Like a machine, Hope maintains a perfectly neutral rela- 
tionship with his environment. It exists only to provide him 
with "material" which he efficiently and unemotionally pro- 
cesses. It is impossible to tell from his jokes what — if any- 
thing — he really values or really loathes. He lays about him 
with a fine impartiality. His sallies are completely without 
passion. Ironically, he is therefore able to get away with 
more cruelty in his wit than a comedian who invests his 
humor with a more personal feeling. 

So far as his public is concerned, Hope is a man without 
roots or human ties. No major celebrity of our time has more 
successfully separated his public existence from his private 



life. His sketchy biography tells us he was born in England, 
grew up in Cleveland, entered show business as a dancer, 
spent long, lean years in the lower levels of vaudeville, 
switched to comedy somewhere along the line and achieved 
his first success in Broadway musicals. Radio — a medium 
that was made for his style — was next; then movies, start- 
ing with The Big Broadcast of 1938. 

Undoubtedly his finest hour occurred during World War 
II, and it is possible that when the definitive social history 
of that war is written, Hope will be recognized as representa- 
tive of what was best in America's response to crisis. With 
no thought of a cost-plus contract, he put his joke factory to 
work for the government, providing his special brand of 
civilian-type humor for men who were suddenly, shockingly 
not civilians any more but who welcomed a reminder that 
they had been and wanted to be again. Hope has never ex- 
plained why he undertook his program of good work. Like 
his humor, it simply came to exist, a surprising beau geste 
from a man who has managed the remarkable trick of being 
funny without ever revealing his true self. 

225 



Bob Hope and friend in That Certain Feeling. 



...and BING CROSBY 



Bing Crosby, too, simply exists. He is not so interesting a 
personality as Bob Hope, for there is nothing enigmatic 
about him. The open, comfortable, relaxed, unpretentious 
public personality is apparently a true reflection of the man 
himself. One of those performers who simply does what 
comes naturally to him, he has found that the public is 
capable of seeing itself in his work. "Bing sings," Dinah 
Shore once remarked, "like all people think they sing in the 
shower." In addition, he conducts himself as most people 
like to think they would behave if they were thrust suddenly 
into celebrity. 

Crosby's history is well known. He gave up his studies 
at Gonzaga University in order to sing, because singing 
was what he most enjoyed doing. He and a friend caught 
on with the Paul Whiteman band, leaving a trail of empty 



bottles and wild oats across the country during the band's 
tours. Crosby left all that behind him when he married his 
first wife, Dixie, and became an overnight sensation with his 
first radio show in 1932. Movie success quickly followed. 
His career reached a peak in the war years when both in 
films and on the radio he consistently headed popularity 
polls, when he won an Academy Award for Going My Way 
and when the Road series with Hope was launched and was 
at its best. They complemented one another. Hope relates 
best to people in the mass; Crosby on a more intimate basis. 
The machinelike energy of the one and the casualness of 
the other are two poles of American character, and they 
made a spark jump between them. Or, perhaps in tandem 
each supplies something the other lacks, and two good per- 
formers become the equivalent of a single great one. 




Crosby the actor. He gave an 
excellent performance in 
The Country Girl (1954), in which 
charm became weakness. 



Crosby the personality. Star-Spangled 
Rhythm was part of a wartime 
cycle of revues in movie form. 
Perfectly dreadful as enter- 
tainment, their proceeds 
frequently went to aid the war effort. 





227 



Das lied von der erde 



INGRID BERGMAN 




Ingrid Bergman's chief problem has always been her 
image. It was, in the beginning, a comparatively simple 
one, based on the public's obvious associations to the shin- 
ing healthiness of her appearance. Beyond that, she seemed 
a rather placid girl with the calmness of simplicity about 
her, as well as a decent— and rare — kind of earthiness. She 
was the sort of girl that men think of as the perfect mother 
for their children. When one looked upon Ingrid Bergman, 
one saw a woman who would make few demands yet would 
be instantly, cheerfully responsive to any demands made 
upon her. There was, the public would learn, a good deal 
more to Miss Bergman than that, but David 0. Selznick 
carefully built up an image of Bergman as the star without 
temperament, the actress as homebody. 

The orphaned daughter of a bon vivant Stockholm photog- 
rapher, she had been taunted as a child because of her 
clumsiness; she became an actress in school productions 
"because then I'm not myself." After high school she en- 
tered the Swedish Royal Academy and, visiting a friend on 
a movie lot, was discovered by a director and a producer 
who were looking for a leading lady for a film called The 
Surf. A colleague from her early days of quick success 
in Swedish movies recalls that "she always radiated phe- 
nomenal health, strength and vitality," that she had "iron 
will power and an unbelievable memory." 

After a four-year courtship, she married Peter Lindstrom, 
a dentist who eventually became a brain surgeon. Shortly 
thereafter, she went to Hollywood, where Selznick remade 
one of her Swedish successes, Intermezzo, then loaned her 
out for the series of films (Rage in Heaven, Dr. Jekyll and 
Mr. Hyde, Casablanca, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Saratoga 
Trunk, Gaslight) that established her, in the early forties, 
both as an actress of considerable talent and as a personality 



Ingrid Bergman s first American movie was 

Intermezzo, a remake of one of her Swedish 

successes. Producer David Selznick thought 

a familiar role would build her confidence. 

Saratoga Trunk (1945) was a movie with a 

theme as non-Swedish as you can get. 999 



who radiated mental health, high morality and, for that 
matter, all the virtues of the balanced life. 

Her career and marriage both soured somewhat as the 
decade wore on. The former peaked with her appearance 
as Joan of Lorraine on Broadway. Significantly, Joan was 
her favorite saint, and with her Miss Bergman shared cer- 
tain significant traits — physical strength, personal in- 
tegrity, driving ambition, a disconcerting habit of speaking 
the truth, a way of angering less generous spirits. At any 
rate, she broke with Selznick, made three disastrous flops 
(including another portrayal of Joan, this time in an ill- 
conceived film ) . At the same time her marriage was en- 
countering difficulties. Her career and that of her husband 
were increasingly divergent. Restless and unhappy, she saw 
the films of Roberto Rossellini, was impressed, and wrote 
him a letter, offering to work for him. Rossellini's neo- 
realistic films — first of the postwar European movies to 
catch the American eye — were not the finest of their type, 
but they did have a certain power, especially for an actress 
who was bored with the overwrought phoniness of the Holly- 
wood product and who probably sensed the need for a 
change in type. 

In any case, she was soon making the wretched Stromboli 
in Italy. Without a studio's press agents to protect her 
reputation, her romance with Rossellini flamed on the front 
pages. On the floor of the United States Senate she was 
called "a free-love cultist," "Hollywood's apostle of degrada- 
tion" and "a powerful influence for evil." Ostracized from 
the American movie community, she was not rehabilitated 
in public favor until Rossellini went off to India to embark 
on a film and another overpublicized romance. Just then 
Twentieth Century Fox took a chance on Bergman for 
the lead in Anastasia, and when she returned to this country 
after that film, Ed Sullivan polled his viewers as to whether, 
in effect, Miss Bergman had been punished enough and 
whether they would like to see her on his television program. 
The mail ran against her, but majority opinion, outraged 
by the vulgarity of the poll, began to swing in her favor. 

Now, nearing fifty, Miss Bergman has married again — 
this time to an enterprising Swedish businessman. She is 
a more matronly figure, and her appeal is considerably dif- 
ferent from what it was. She has the honest sensuality of 
what the French call "a woman of a certain age." Her 
presence suggests worldly experience and hunger for a new 
romantic truth, both informed by a wryly amused accept- 
ance of the way things are. "She dares to live truthfully," 
says Gary Grant, and in her maturity, Ingrid Bergman is 
an infinitely more interesting screen figure than she was 
in her fresh-faced youth. 




Bergman and Cooper in For Whom the Bell Tolls. 



230 



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A touch of elegance 

CARY GRANT 



David Niven thinks Cary Grant is "a spooky Celt really, 
not an Englishman at all. Must be some fey Welsh blood 
there someplace." Grant's style is based on faultless grace 
and elegance, and thus he represents the distilled essence 
of one — but only one — of the ideal qualities the American 
woman would like to find in her mate. It is a quality that 
is particularly rare in the domestic male and one which he 
contends is rather sissified. It may be described as easy 
charm. Grant provides it for the ladies and at the same time 
seems to kid it, thus making his screen self palatable to men 
as well. The fact that he is not to the manner born probably 
helps to make his double-edged portrayals easier for him. 

Grant was born into a family of modest circumstances in 
Bristol, England. His mother suffered a mental breakdown 
when he was twelve, and his father sought solace with 
another woman, by whom he had a child. Grant shortly 
joined a juvenile acrobatic troupe, whose wandering exist- 
ence suited his restlessness. Eventually he came to New 
York, worked in musical comedies, then went to Hollywood 
to play bits. Mae West spotted him on the Paramount lot 
and, since there was always room for someone of his type 
in her films, cast him in his first leading role. The picture 
was She Done Him Wrong, the screen version of her stage 
success Diamond Lil. 

"I became an actor for the usual reasons," Grant has 
recalled, "a great need to be liked and admired. Besides, 
picture making is adventurous." He has been at it for almost 
thirty years now, and one of the most remarkable things 
about him is utter agelessness. In effect, he is still playing 
juveniles. He owes this to various forms of rigorous self- 
discipline and, he claims, to psychotherapy. Whatever ac- 
counts for it, there is no doubt that the Grant screen char- 
acter is built on a solid foundation. In parts that could easily 
become foppish and foolish in less skilled hands, there is 
always a suggestion of inner strength which makes be- 
lievable the "wary rapacity" with which he approaches his 
leading ladies. 




A cold, humorous tub in The Howards of Virginia. 



233 



Grant at his ever youthful best in Indiscreet. 



JOoJN WAYINfcj The unacclaimed hero 




A change of pace for Wayne. He plays (opposite Maureen O'Hara) in The Quiet Man, John Ford's salty tribute to the Ould Sod. 



Among the finer sensibilities who are fond of movies, 
there has never been much feeling for John Wayne. His 
conservative politics are anathema to those liberal intel- 
lectuals who have concerned themselves with film; the flat 
accents of his voice, his lumbering movements, have never 
commended him to connoisseurs either of acting or of 
male beauty. He is, apparently, loved only by the people 
who, since he rose from the grade-Z Westerns that he made 
in the early thirties, have made him one of the all-time box- 
office champions. 

What they see in him is a screen personality who is dully, 
stupidly, triumphantly and, without the slightest subtlety, 
100-per-cent American male. Wayne, who has a hero-wor- 
shiping admiration for director John Ford, has frequently 



said that the director taught him not acting but reacting. 
Thus a Wayne film is usually a curious phenomenon. The 
star stands at its dead center, still as the eye of a hurricane, 
while around him forces of tremendous magnitude are un- 
loosed. The fun lies in watching him bring his remarkable 
physical strength and technical know-how into play against 
these forces. 

Wayne's character has no inner resonance. Cooper's West- 
erner, for example, could be imagined philosophizing about 
his relationship with his environment. Wayne is never 
truly at ease with it; he lacks any capacity to give himself 
to it. It is for this reason that his best Western roles have 
been as cavalry officers, men who live in the wilderness 
not through choice but because they have been ordered to do 



234 



'Everybody gets dead." The name of the film is Hondo. 



so. Wayne's Western knowledge thus seems to have been 
acquired under compulsion, rather than as a natural part 
of growing up. It is no less valid for that reason, and it is 
nonsense to question his proficiency in such matters as 
tracking, horsemanship and Indian psychology. What is 
interesting about Wayne is his very awkwardness, the slight 
feeling of unease, for which he compensates by being more 
aggressively masculine than other Western stars. He is, for 
instance, ruder with women than the others, a little tougher 
on the tenderfoot or the juvenile. The bark of his command- 
ing voice seems a little harsher than that of his rivals, the 
impact of his avenging fists a little sharper. 

All this undoubtedly results from the fact that Wayne 
is by no means a natural actor. The unease of his character 
may be nothing more than that of a man made uncom- 
fortable by having his picture taken. 

He was a football star at the University of Southern Cali- 



fornia and worked for Ford as a prop boy in the summers. 
Ford gave him some small parts, which led to the quickie 
Western career from which, in time, Ford rescued him by 
giving him the lead in the memorable Stagecoach. "I made 
so many pictures in the early days, I couldn't begin to tell 
you how many I was in," says Wayne. "I made a lot of 
those four- and five-day westerns designed for kids. I built 
a young audience with those, and the kids grew up and 
started going to see me in more adult things. Also, during 
the past ten years, they've been showing my old quickies 
on television, and they've given me a whole new audience 
of kids — children of the ones who went to see me in the 
first place. . . . It's constant exposure that builds you up as 
a personality." At any rate, following his success in Stage- 
coach, the lead in Reap the Wild Wind, a DeMille spectacle 
of 1940, solidified Wayne's position, and during the war 
years Wayne emerged as a star of the first rank. 




236 



The militarist. He received Academy Award nomination for Sands of Iwo Jima . . . 
but was at his best in Fort Apache, another John Ford production. 



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AV A Cr A It L) IN Ej It Temporary goddess 



Quietly libidinal Ava Gardner replaced Rita Hayworth, 
in the late forties and early fifties, as Hollywood's leading 
love goddess. She was less sparkly than Rita, and her reign, 
coming just before Marilyn Monroe's, was a short one, but 
she had certain symbolic virtues that were not to be denied. 
She was billed in The Barefoot Contessa as "the world's 
most beautiful animal," and for once the billing was ac- 
curate, if not necessarily in its use of the superlative, then 
in summarizing the spirit of the star. There is indeed an 
animal quality about her sensuality. She is a proud, prowling, 
restless tigress, sure of her powers, yet confused about their 
proper uses. 

It is not surprising that Ava Gardner reached her greatest 
popularity in a period when the nation itself seemed to lose 
its sense of direction and purpose. For the sum of her 
characteristics has always been that of slumbering greatness 
as a love object, not fulfillment. She seems in need of the 
magic wand that will awaken and synthesize all the qualities 
which, in various roles, she has evinced. She acts, in short, 
with the distracted air of a woman searching for something 
she cannot quite define. 

Born in some place called Smithfield, North Carolina, she 
led an oversheltered, apparently loveless childhood, fol- 
lowed an older sister to New York with vague plans to be- 
come a secretary. Her sister's husband was a photographer 
and he used Ava for a model. An M-G-M scout saw her photo 
in a shop window and she became first a starlet, then 
Mickey Rooney's wife. Her first important role was The 
Hucksters (1946), in which she played a "palsy" former 
lover of hero Clark Gable. There has been something of the 
pal in most of her portrayals since. She is always the girl 
who goes to bed with the guy first, then discovers that she 
loves him. Her approach, you see, is all very modern. 



The exotic Ava Gardner as a half- 
caste Indian in Bhowani Junction. 



Mogambo. Gardner repeated the role Jean 
Harlow created in Red Dust in 1932. 






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The triumph of the super-ego 

GREGORY PECK 



Gregory Peck is a handy, all-purpose hero whose un- 
obtrusive presence has, since 1944, adorned a great many 
expensive, serious, intelligent, but in the last analysis, un- 
inspired, films. When he made The Keys of the Kingdom, 
James Agee mused on why, at first glance, Peck seemed to 
be a gifted actor and why that impression faded so quickly. 
"Now, it seems to me that he probably has talent, in a still 
semiprofessional stage, and that I was moved and misled 
rather by his newness, his unusual handsomeness, and his 
still more unusual ability to communicate sincerity." 

Peck has professionalized his talent, but not, of course, as 
an actor. His profession is stardom, and upon his ability to 
play sincerity he has based his star personality. It is an 
extremely appealing one, strong, masculine, honest. He is 
effective in Westerns and adventure romances but his spe- 
cialty is the modern, troubled intellectual. In Gentleman's 
Agreement, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, The Man in the Gray 
Flannel Suit, Beloved Infidel he has played writers whose 
integrity, either as men or as artists was somehow threat- 
ened by the pressures of his time. 

Peck's passion never leaps high; it smolders, and when 
he is called upon to play, for example, Ahab in Moby Dick, 
he cannot quite realize the full-scale emotionality of the role. 
He is, himself, the thoroughgoing professional, careful of 
himself, proud of his craft and, like his screen character, 
rather unegotistical. As a solid pro, Peck has always been 
careful to pick strong stories, and in no way has he allowed 
his personality to interfere with their telling. He is, in short, 
very much the model of modern movie star. His presence is 
more self-effacing than that of the superstars of the previous 
generation. He is not bland in the manner of the faceless 
youths who have been billed as stars in the fifties, but neither 
is he so engaging an individual as his predecessors. A quiet 
worrier rather than a passionate setter-to-rights, he is an 
idealized mid-century everyman in a button-down collar. 




The white hunter in The Macomber Affair (1947). 



The Gunfighter. "A man ought to have more to 
show for his life than a gold watch." 



241 



THE 









PART SEVEN 



FIFTIES 



One day early in 1961, Carl Foreman, an independent 
motion-picture producer, sat down with New York Times 
reporter Murray Schumach to survey the remains of the once 
proud and powerful American motion-picture industry. As 
they talked, one great studio and two or three minor ones 
had ceased entirely to exist. Another was renting space on 
the lot it had once owned and later sold to a producer of 
filmed television shows. Another was busy exploring for oil 
and subdividing its lot, its fate as a producer dependent on 
a multimillion-dollar picture, the cost of which had some- 
how got out of hand and which, unless it turned out to be 
the biggest hit in history, might well ruin the studio. Not 
far away, the grandest studio of them all, M-G-M, having 
almost destroyed itself by clinging too long to the old ways 
of doing business, had but recently bailed itself out of 
trouble by producing a smasheroo called Ben-Hur, and was 
now once again in trouble because too much had been spent 
remaking a former hit, Mutiny on the Bounty. 

Such has been the caliber of Hollywood industrial states- 
manship that it was characteristic of Metro to remake old 
successes in an attempt to survive rather than to think up 
something new to do. It was to this general softening of the 
brain that Mr. Foreman was hyperbolically addressing him- 
self. "The movie business in Hollywood," he said, "is the 
only business in the history of the United States that set out 
to destroy itself. ... It is the only business where the men 
at the top discharged or devoured all the younger men who 
could have carried on. Hollywood today is in a complete 
state of anarchy. 



"What they have," he continued, "is an ever-decreasing 
number of stars getting ever-increasing salaries. This is in- 
sane." Asserting that it was healthy for movie making to go 
out into the great world and break out of the confining studio 
walls, he suggested that the industry might need government 
subsidies and a training school for new talent. "The bulk of 
Hollywood movies are old-fashioned and creaky," he de- 
clared. "There is nothing here to compare with the ferment 
in Great Britain, France or even Poland, which is behind the 
Iron Curtain." 

Many things besides television have contributed to the 
decline of Hollywood in the postwar years. The nation was 
spending its leisure hours in different ways — in do-it-yourself 
projects around home, in travel, in self-improvement, in com- 
munity activities, in God-knows-what. There were, simply, 
far more demands on the average citizen's time than there 
once had been, and he had more money and education to 
spend on more elaborate cultural pursuits than a Saturday 
night at the movies. In addition, the importation of foreign 
films, as well as Hollywood's own occasional forays into the 
realm of genuine art, had convinced him that movies should 
be something more than a habit, that they could be, at their 
best, an experience, and that he was quite within his rights 
to be choosy about them — especially when his longing for 
trash could be so easily satisfied at home by the mere flick 
of a switch. 

For those who were adaptable there were still fortunes 
to be made in the Hollywood of the fifties. The operational 
principle was to avoid getting yourself tied up "in concrete," 



243 



as the saying went. The old Hollywood had, indeed, been 
set up on industrial lines. Movies were interchangeable prod- 
ucts — like cans of corn — and you moved as many cans as 
possible off the shelves and into the stores each year. If you 
lost money on one line of products, you were sure to make 
it up on another. The main thing was production. This, of 
course, entailed a heavy overhead. Assembly lines cost 
money to establish and to operate; they require much "con- 
crete." The new Hollywood discovered that with fewer 
theaters in operation (and television forced the marginal 
ones out of business very quickly) it needed much less prod- 
uct than it once had. With less product needed, it discovered 
that it needed less "concrete," and far fewer employees. 
Even some of the moguls' relatives lost their jobs. 

After much stumbling about in a wilderness of conflicting 
advice, and many yelping runs down false trails, the movie 
makers began to operate within a new industrial pattern 
which emerged by the middle of the decade. The old-line 
studios became, in effect, real estate operators, loan sharks 
and comparatively passive distributors of other people's 
products. They rented their production facilities, loaned 
money to and distributed the product of independent pack- 
agers of various types. Some of these were former employees 
— directors, stars, even staff producers — -who knew how to 
write their names or, even better, how to talk awfully fast, 
and who whirled around town, wrapping "packages" which 
could be converted into cash for production. They started 
with a "property," then interested a guaranteed superstar in 
appearing in the movie version. With him lined up, yet an- 
other and another and another could be brought into camp. 
Add a director and a screenwriter along the way, and the 
moguls became as children, eager to press money on the 
operator. 

Now it quickly became obvious that the key to all this was 
the star. He could not just be anybody who had once had his 
name billed above a picture's title. He had to be somebody 
who, on the form charts, could bring the people in. There 
were very few such gilt-edged drawing cards in the business, 
and most of them quickly incorporated themselves and 
learned to wrap their own packages. This happy few could 
be lured into other people's pictures, but it came to be con- 
sidered declasse, if not downright vulgar, to "take money." 
What one takes, ideally, is a percentage of a film's gross. 
Second best is a percentage of the profits — which most 
studios prefer, since 50 per cent of nothing is still nothing, 
while 10 per cent of a film's gross, even when that gross does 
not return the cost of making the negative, can be consider- 
able. Obviously there is little long-term security for the star 



in such a system. He therefore charges what the traffic will 
bear and there are now signs that the money men are about 
to revolt against the heavy duties the stars have lately ex- 
acted. The handful of stars who have survived and pros- 
pered may, in the immediate future, face a dowward re- 
vision of the prices they can get. 

But at last the importance of the star, and to a lesser 
degree that of directors and writers, is being recognized. 
This is not only stated in terms of remuneration, but in terms 
of status. They — or at any rate their agents and managers — 
are calling the shots now, and as a result they are acquiring 
something at least as satisfying to the ego as publicity — 
membership in the real power elite of Hollywood. 

The results of the big change-over are interestingly mixed. 
The easy money has virtually disappeared, and that is good. 
So is the disappearance of the arrogant, unbridled power of 
the studios. Something like a free market place has begun to 
exist in Hollywood today. There are many buyers and many 
sellers of talent, ideas and money, and the old dominance of 
a handful of tycoons is almost finished. 

With production spread among so many small companies, 
the threat of boycott is lessened and pressure groups are de- 
nied the leverage they once had on the studios, which dared 
not threaten their entire output to protect a single contro- 
versial film. Because the public apparently wants more adult 
pictures, and because creative people are finally free to in- 
dulge themselves in ideas that would have been vetoed by 
the frightened Philistines of the old-time front office, films 
have a new seriousness about them. 

But, there are "buts." To begin with, there is no American 
art film tradition. Cast off from the rigid disciplines of studio- 
style production, many would-be film artists flounder. They 
have toiled too long under the old way of doing business and 
they find, now that they may speak freely, that they can, alas, 
only talk in the old accents. Many of them were not very fine 
minds to begin with, and their attempts at seriousness are 
more laughable — and far less entertaining — than were the 
standardized items they used to grind out. Many of the new 
talents are more pretentious than portentous. 

While the new independence has given us much that is 
arty, the percentage of the product that is genuine art is not 
much higher than it ever was; and, remember, the total 
number of films produced is smaller. In addition, there is an 
increasing reliance on the superspectacle, frequently Biblical 
or historical in theme; and these, though often profitable, are 
even more often regressive as screen art. Then, too, there is 
a greater reliance on the pre-sold property, the best-selling 
book or hit play or, as we have seen, the previously success- 



244 




James Deans career covered 
just a few years of 
the fifties, but his brooding, 
withdrawn, rebellious, 
sensitive presence 
struck a particularly 
responsive chord during 
the decade — especially 
among the young audiences. 






ful film, and so the percentage of original screenplays, in 
which lies whatever hope there is for the creation of a 
uniquely American screen art, dwindles. Too many recent 
films are merely expensive and stupid mountings of proper- 
ties that should never have been translated to the screen. 

Finally, and this is most germane to the history of movie 
stardom, no one is building for the future in Hollywood. 
The studios, for all their terrible faults and without doing all 
they should have done, had the resources and the economic 
self-interest to try to develop new talent. As we have seen, 
it takes as many as ten years for a star to develop his full 
potential, and in the process there has to be room for consid- 
erable trial and error, plus the resources to carry those fail- 
ures which are an inevitable byproduct of such a process. 
The independents, concerned vith just one film at a time, 
and the immediate profit or loss which will determine their 
ability to make another film, do not have the time, resources 
or inclination to worry about such matters. For them the 
future stretches no farther ahead than next year. 

The studios, most of whom keep a few youngsters under 
contract, are frankly worried about more pressing matters 
than the stars of the next decade. For them there may be no 
next decade anyway. So, it is very difficult, under present 
conditions, to learn the trade of stardom. Growth is forced, 



and there are not enough unimportant films in which to test 
talents. One remembers how many stars, writers and direc- 
tors Metro harvested from its B-picture units (and, inci- 
dentally, how many of the little pictures were infinitely 
better than the big ones), and one despairs of Hollywood's 
future. The irony is that television may be the modern 
equivalent of the old B film, the farm system for new talent. 
Meantime, careers are lasting so long that many of them 
are being ended, remarkably, by natural causes, by the 
diseases that aging flesh is heir to. 

Of one thing, however, we may be certain. The cult of 
personality is deeply imbedded in our attitudes toward films. 
It is true that, today more than ever before, films — especially 
foreign films — can be commercial successes without stars. 
But the irony is that the public, just as it did in the time 
when there were no such things as stars, quickly picks out 
the most interesting faces in these films and insists on know- 
ing more about them. The human need for stars seems to re- 
main, for good or ill, constant. The public may be plucking 
fewer new stars from the backgrounds of American movies, 
but it is finding them elsewhere — on the stage, in television, 
in movies made abroad — and is forcing them on the Amer- 
ican movie maker. 



245 



Alan Ladd, Kim NovaN 




Alan Ladd maintains his composure, even during the epochal brawl in Shane 



The bland blonde has always been something of a staple 
in Hollywood, but diminutive Alan Ladd is probably the first 
male star to achieve fame by combining beauty and som- 
nambulism like the female of the species. So unemotional 
was he, with his deadness of voice and feature, that in some 
movies he succeeded in reducing murder to an act as ir- 
relevant as crossing the street. By this absence of emotion he 
created a wonderful commentary on violence. Similarly, his 
frozen good looks could be read as a symbol of evil's oppo- 
site, as in Shane. But he was an actor singularly dependent, 
since he was a symbol rather than a human being, on the 



246 



THE SOMNAMBULISTS 




Kim Novak remained triumphantly somnambulistic, even when playing a witch. 



taste and abilities of his directorial manipulators, and so his 
vogue was very brief. Shane was his last important picture. 
Like Ladd, Kim Novak, his female counterpart, is utterly 
dependent on her manipulators. Her career, which began in 
the early fifties when Ladd's began to taper off, is already 
on the wane. Says producer Jerry Wald: "Generally these 
kids come from poor or lower-middle-class backgrounds. 
Generally they're terribly insecure and only half formed as 
individuals when we get them. They're still asking them- 
selves, 'Who am I? What am I?' Then, overnight, they're 
stars. Their development as individuals becomes arrested be- 



cause suddenly we're making all the decisions for them and 
they don't have to think much. So they remain like children, 
still trying to discover their true personality. . . ." 

The essence of the female somnambulist's appeal is that 
the male in the audience dreams he can become her master. 
Their tragedy is that they have, in fact, been mastered and 
are therefore denied the opportunity to learn how to be 
people — and it is as people, not as symbols, that the stars 
survive. In the faceless fifties, however, as one psychiatrist 
put it, the dehumanized stars "go well with an era that 
suffers from a loss of identity." 



247 






The hero as operator 

WILLIAM HOLDEN 




William H olden, Gloria Swanson, in Sunset Boulevard, the film which rescued his career. 



In 1949, William Holden told an interviewer that he liked 
to make three kinds of movies — Westerns, "because they 
keep me outside, give me lots of exercise"; comedies, "be- 
cause they're the ones that bring money into the box office"; 
and serious dramas, because "I hope maybe some day a 
critic will spot me and say 'Aha, that's the boy!' " 

Discovered in a student dramatics group at South Pasadena 
Junior College, he became a star in 1939 as the fighter-fiddler 
in Golden Boy, made a few pictures that established him as 
a promising Boy Next Door, then went into the Army. After 
the war, he played a succession of similar parts and found 
that he was just another standard hero, indistinguishable 
from William Lundigan or Dennis O'Keefe or any of a dozen 
other profiles whose names are already half forgotten. But a 
year after his somewhat wistful statement, critics, producers 
and public were saying "Aha," because Billy Wilder had cast 
him as the gigolo to Gloria Swanson's aging movie queen in 
Sunset Boulevard. Four years later he won an Oscar for his 



tough, funny con man in Wilder's Stalag 17. Ever since, he 
has been ranked as a superstar, one of those who disdain to 
accept "just money." 

Like Peck, his off-screen demeanor is that of a bright 
young corporation president, whose product is himself. But 
there is an edge of anger, or perhaps just wildness (he does 
his own stunts) about him. One shrewd friend has said, "He's 
the typical American boy who wanted to become a slob — 
and never did." Adds Wilder, "Only actors who are ashamed 
to act are worth their salt. . . . Anybody who tears himself 
to shreds being hammy, I suspect. That's why I'm fond of 
Holden. He dies every time he has to act. . . . He's beyond 
acting. He is there. It is as simple as that. You never doubt 
or question what he is." Holden, thus became the heir, in the 
fifties, to the mantle of the great American leading men. 
Salty yet urbane, he was especially effective in a time which 
likes a soupqon of cynicism in the heroic mix. 



248 




The Golden Boy as Golden Boy. 

In H olden' s first movie, the changeless 

Lee J. Cobb played his father. 




Holden's Ail-American good looks lent special irony to his portrayal of a con man in Stalag 17. 



249 



The hero as executive 

BURT LANCASTER 



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Osteopath heal thyself! Burt Lancaster in Come Back, Little Sheba. 



Burt Lancaster, with Holden, was the other important 
leading-man find of the fifties. A lower East Side kid, he had 
spent the prewar years as a circus acrobat, came out of 
the Army and made his only Broadway foray in a short- 
lived play which brought him a movie contract. His first 
picture, The Killers ( 1946 ) , established him as a star of 
considerable strength. More than types like Holden, his 
magnetism was based on sheer — almost brutish— physical 
force. But he is apparently an actor who is very, very serious 
about the social value of his trade, as well as a shrewd 
producer. Both in his selection of roles and in his produc- 
tions, he has generally opted for the serious, the consciously 
important theme. Among the first stars to set up his own 
production company (in 1948), he is at his best in roles that 
call for outward force (From Here to Eternity, Sweet Smell 
of Success, Elmer Gantry ) rather than inner conflict. He has 
trouble playing intellectuals; but, oddly, his acting technique 
is cerebral rather than emotional in method. He is best when 
he does not have to force an emotion. Under such stress he 
shows too many teeth. 





mf+ 



im Thorpe, Ail-American. 



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Burt Lancaster, Ail-American. 



251 







I Confess. Hitchcock's study of a priest who discovers, in the confessional, whodunit. 



Montgomery Clift, along with Marlon Brando, repre- 
sented something entirely new on the screen — the inwardly 
troubled hero. Before them, no one had thought to place 
before the public a hero with internal problems. The prob- 
lems faced by their predecessors had to be external — a 
moral choice, a problem in the technique of getting what you 
wanted. With Clift and Brando, the age of psychology came 
to the world of the movie star. Brando, of course, is a more 
powerful actor, his violence quotient is much higher. But 
Clift has his points. He is, very simply, more handsome than 
Brando. And, in addition, he has a reedlike quality; it 
seems as if he might easily be broken by the forces aligned 



against him. He has yet to break on the screen, but it always 
seems a live possibility — more so than it ever has in the 
work of other male stars. 

As a troubled, yet beautifully youthful man, Clift has 
brought out the mother in a generation of American women 
who have learned to respond to his special blend of delicacy 
and resilience. Not surprisingly, many a young matron has 
been heard to mourn for the lost perfection of his beauty, 
which was marred in an auto accident. Yet all of them ad- 
mire the dogged courage with which he has come back from 
the accident and which usually illuminates — through con- 
trast — his screen portrayals of troubled youth. 



252 



The new sensitivity 

MONTGOMERY 
CLIFT 




Clift plays the Adventurer in The Heiress with Olivia De Havilland. 



Clift came to films in 1948, when he made The Search, 
Fred Zinnemann's movingly simple story of the plight of 
Europe's war orphans. In the same year he made Red River, 
Howard Hawkes's bruising, gritty Western; and it might be 
said that in Clift's epochal brawl with John Wayne the new 
Hollywood man fought it out with the old. Significantly, it 
ended in a draw, but Clift was a star from that point on. 

Star status had been a long time coming, for he had begun 
his acting career in 1935, at fifteen, as a stage juvenile and 
had appeared thereafter in a number of rather distinguished 
plays, including There Shall Be No Night and The Skin of Our 
Teeth. As reticent as his screen character, and as enigmatic, 



Clift has frequently turned down roles because, he says, he 
wants to be an actor not a star. "I don't have a big urge to 
act. I can't play something I'm not interested in. If I'm not 
interested, how can I expect the audience to be." 

Unlike Brando, he makes no claim to being a method 
actor, and he says he works strictly on instinct. "An actor," 
he has said, "must share experiences familiar to the audi- 
ence. Otherwise you're making faces in a vacuum." It is 
hard to know, specifically, what experiences he has shared 
with the younger generation who made him their own in the 
fifties, but he does project, with rare fidelity, their inner ten- 
sions, the result of rebelliousness suppressed. 



253 



The new sensitivity 

MARLON 
BRANDO 



The first movie Marlon Brando made was The Men, in 
1950. Cast as an embittered paraplegic, he endured a month 
in a hospital ward with men who really had been paralyzed 
as a result of war wounds. With his usual intensity, Brando 
experienced the paraplegic's bedridden existence, prac- 
ticed his exercises, learned to manipulate a wheel chair. 
Then, one Saturday, he went with some of his ward mates to 
a beer joint to which they frequently repaired. There they 
were set upon by a religious fanatic who told them that 
if they would but have faith they might rise up and walk 
again. On and on he droned, until Brando cried, "You really 
mean I can walk if I want to enough?" Not waiting for a 
reply, he leaped from his chair and dashed from the bar, 
returning quickly with a bundle of newspapers which he 
proceeded to hawk up and down the bar, yelling joyously, 
"Now I can make a living again." The men in the wheel 
chairs roared with laughter, and if there had been any strain 
between them and the actors who were suddenly living 
among them for purposes of the picture, it was ended. 

The story is not set down here as an idle anecdote, for 
it tells a great deal about Marlon Brando — his impatience 
with the fraudulent, and the open rebellion it causes in him; 
his uncanny sense of what is natural, what is "right" in the 
actor's imitation of human behavior; and, perhaps most 
important of all, his sense of exactly what an audience will 
accept. One may set aside the fact that his performance in 
the bar served a good end, the freeing of brave men from 
tedium, false pity and offensiveness. But it is hard to set 
aside the fact that Brando's response was very much in the 
vein of his time, a time which has found Holden Caulfield 
to be a true hero, a hero whose chief claim upon us is his 
withering contempt for the phony. 

Brando is not liked by the older generation, generally 
speaking. They accuse him of mumbling and scratching, of 
an unwonted sullenness, of seeming to brood too much 
and, when not so occupied, of being too violent, too antiso- 
cial. All of this, in a way, is true, and in the noisy campaign 
he has conducted against the poseurs of Hollywood it may 
be that he has created a pose as phony as any he is reacting 
against. But its roots lie in an honest reaction. "In my own 




254 




One of Brando's best performances came 
in an extremely indifferent film, 
Joshua Logan's Sayonara, yet another 
cinematic plea for racial understanding. 



behavior with people, if I didn't trust or like someone I 
would either say nothing or mumble. I got to be awfully 
good at mumbling." His sister Jocelyn reported that he so 
desperately wanted honesty that "when somebody was 
blatantly dishonest, Marlon was so disappointed he couldn t 
talk, he couldn't cope with it, he was too emotional." 

It is the honesty of this attitude that illuminates his acting. 
Clift may play an inwardly troubled male with equal skill 
on occasion, but he remains clean-cut, well dressed. Brando 
does not look well dressed even when, in fact, he is. His 
features are an odd combination of sensitivity and brutality. 
He has eyes, as he once phrased it, "like those of a dead 
pig." The natural line of his mouth is a scowly droop, his 
hair has been receding for years, and his figure tends toward 
the paunchy. These very imperfections enhance the honesty 
of his portrayals, reinforce the qualities he is most interested 
in examining as an actor. 

Brando repeated for the screen the stage role that had 
brought him fame, Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named 
Desire. As Brando played him, Stanley had a certain animal 
fascination, but he was undoubtedly repugnant to many 
people, even to Brando. "Kowalski was always right, and 
never afraid," Brando has said. "He never wondered, he 
never doubted. His ego was very secure. And he had the 
kind of brutal aggressiveness I hate. I'm afraid of it. I 
detest the character." 

It should be borne in mind that in the best of his later 
roles — as the motorcycle gang leader in The Wild One, as 
the Mexican revolutionary in Viva Zapata, as, most memo- 
rably, the troubled dock-walloper in On the Waterfront, even 
as the soldier in Sayonara — he has been playing quite dif- 
ferent characters. The brute force of the man remains, the 
willingness to cut through delicate problems with sledge 
hammer impatience. But the controlling factor in these 
characters has always been the fact that they were men in 
search. All they have to go on is a dim awareness that things 
should be better. In The Wild One no way out is offered and 
the film ends in an explosion of meaningless violence. But 
in Viva Zapata revolutionary politics offers an answer: in 
Waterfront it is social consciousness; in Sayonara it is the 
slow-coming knowledge, gained not from slogans but from 



255 



direct experience, that prejudice is a stupid limitation on 
man's life. 

None of these answers, of course, is definitive or even 
earth-shakingly new. But Brando the actor gives them an 
importance — even, as he gropes agonizingly toward them, 
an excitement — which is shattering. He makes the sophisti- 
cated aware of an impolite world that sees radicalism where 
they have come to see only cliches. As for the younger 
generation, those who are Brando's age or younger, they 
respond to his honesty and his obvious agony. 

Older generations, brought up on the notion that movie 
heroes should be romanticized and idealized males, remain 
disconcerted by the phenomenon of Brando. Perhaps they 
see too clearly in him the failures of the world they made. 
Perhaps the oft-raised cry that they do not understand him 
is a way of saying they understand him all too well and 
wish to shut out that understanding. 

But this much they should admit: as a movie actor he 
has no peer in this generation. That he consistently under- 
plays, yet still packs more emotion into a scene than anyone 
else, is a sign of a charisma that may be an act of God. 
But that he can grant importance to material that is fre- 
quently trivial or, at best, cheaply exciting, is a mark of the 
genuine actor's ability to invest bad roles with human im- 
portance. And one more thing: He does not mumble unless 
the role calls for it. When he does, he is good enough to com- 
municate the emotional meaning of what he is doing, even 
if you can't quite hear his every word. Furthermore, the 
screen is the ideal medium for his style. There is no need 
to shout here, and no need to enunciate in the manner of a 
high-school forensics coach. Brando's objectives in a scene 
are always clear and always easy to see — if you know how 
to read him. 

As for Brando himself, it is hard to say where he is 
going. He has declared that he wishes shortly to be "a 
has-been" as an actor so he may be free to direct. Like his 
screen characters, he has done much searching (his meta- 
phor having been, chiefly, the psychoanalytic), and of late 
he has managed to delay unconscionably the production of 
two expensive films, sending them way over budget. This 
may be his way of getting his wish, or it may mean that he 
is still involved in his personal search. Whatever he finds, 
his efforts have struck a responsive chord in his generation. 
It has seen in him a child of his times, a perfect screen 
incarnation of its own inward gropings. So long as that is 
true, Brando is on safe ground when he says, "The only 
thing an actor owes his public is not to bore them." As 
things stand, he runs no such risk. 




Brando, Lee J. Cobb slug it out in On the Waterfront. 



256 




With Vivian Leigh he repeats for films 
his great stage success in Streetcar. 



FRANK SINATRA 




Sinatra as a hired gun in Suddenly, a cold-blooded, bravura performance. 



From a career as a boyish, relaxed and cheerful chirper 
of songs for teen-agers during the war, Frank Sinatra, 
through sheer force of will, in 1953, converted himself, into 
an entirely new screen personality. His career at low ebb, 
both musically and on the screen, he waged a desperate war 
for the part of Maggio, the tragic, scrappy, funny eight-ball 
of From Here to Eternity. He played the role for an $8,000 
fee, $142,000 less than his usual price. For it he won an 
Academy Award and a new start that has made him vir- 
tually a one-man entertainment industry. 

In maturity he has become undoubtedly the finest popular 
singer of his time, an artist of impeccable taste. As an actor 
he is limited, but no less effective for his limitations. He 
markets a brand of bouncy toughness not unlike that of 



the late John Garfield, but combines it with an air of hip 
sophistication — he knows what the score is, he knows how 
to come out on top — that would have been quite beyond 
Garfield's tough but threatened slum kid. In this, perhaps, 
we see a reflection of the difference between our time and 
the late thirties. The economic hopelessness which formed 
Garfield's screen personality has disappeared. Once again, 
Americans are sure that anyone may rise to fame, wealth 
or, most important, popularity. 

The fact that Sinatra's comeback was mercilessly docu- 
mented in print certainly informs our vision of his screen 
character, as does the knowledge that in real life he is a man 
of mercurial moods, sudden generosity and equally sudden 
temper, of fierce loyalty to friends and implacable hatreds. 



258 



From Here to Eternity. The film that turned the tide for Frank Sinatra. 




The old Sinatra. Anchors Aweigh, 
with Gene Kelly, was the best 
of the many musicals Sinatra made 
in the days when he played singing 
sidekick to everyone on the M-G-M lot. 



* 



Mr. 



y, 







Deborah Kerr, Grace Kelly 

THE NEW CLASS 




Deborah Kerr in The Sundowners (1960). 



260 



Frank Sinatra's career was not the only one revived by 
director Fred Zinnemann's willingness to cast against type 
in From Here to Eternity. Donna Reed, previously regarded 
as the perfect bourgeoise, brought this quality to the part 
of a whore longing for respectability and gave new depth 
to a standard movie role. More importantly, Miss Deborah 
Kerr, previously known as a glacially beautiful, terribly 
correct and respectable woman, suddenly manifested those 
qualities of fiery, desperate passion which no one before 
Zinnemann had the wit to tap for a screen role. The result 
was a triumph for Miss Kerr and yet another high point 
in a film which, for its perfection of tone and mood, is one 
of the high points of the decade's movie making, and of the 
new seriousness with which Hollywood was attempting to 
compete with television. 

An English actress of classic beauty, Deborah Kerr had 
been playing rather frigid women since coming to Holly- 
wood shortly after the war. Her screen character always 
suggested that there was more here than met the eye, that 
perhaps her icy manner was the result of repression rather 
than mere good breeding. It took the part of Karen in 
Eternity to make it clear that a real woman existed beneath 
that cool exterior. And, perhaps, it required new times to 
appreciate her womanly appeal, less blatant than that of 
most female stars in its blend of fire and ice. 

Grace Kelly, younger, more kittenish when her defenses 
finally crumbled, but no less possessed of a fine beauty 
and a reserve that the vulgar know as "class," was the 
product of a wealthy and famous family, good schools, 
modeling and television. She made her first great impact 
in another Zinnemann picture, High Noon. In her role as 
an extremely ladylike Quaker, aroused finally to kill in 
defense of the man she loved, the public again saw the deli- 
cious combination of passion masked by coolness, reveled 
in the tension of waiting for the former to melt the latter. 
Hitchcock added the dimensions of worldliness and humor 
to her character in Rear Window and in To Catch a Thief. 

Her career, of course, was interrupted by her royal mar- 
riage in 1956, but not before she had won an Academy 
Award for playing The Country Girl, a summation of the 
qualities which make up her type — reserve, morality and an 
underlying passion that is frequently devastating. 









8 



I 







31 



/ 



High Society with John Lund. 
This remake of The Philadel- 
phia Story even found a 
place for Louis Armstrong. 
The Swan (left), ivith Louis 
Jourdan, was Grace Kelly's 
swan song, last film before 
marriage to Prince Rainier. 



261 



THE NEW CLASS 




Love in the Afternoon. Cooper was the fortunate father figure. 




3* 

As Natasha in War and Peace. 



"After so many drive-in waitresses in Movies," said 
Billy Wilder, "here is class, somebody who went to school, 
can spell and possibly play the piano. . . . This girl single- 
handed may make bozooms a thing of the past." The director 
was speaking of wispy, fragile Audrey Hepburn, the little 
English girl who, following a New York stage debut in 
Colette's Gigi, became a full-scale movie star in Roman Holi- 
day and Sabrina. Her kind of class was quite different from 
that of the Misses Kerr and Kelly. What eventually emerged 
from beneath their coolness was mature charm. Miss Hep- 
burn, though fully as well bred as they were, had no cool- 
ness. Instead there is a kind of eager, coltish innocence 
which it is the function of her older, wiser leading men to 
focus and direct. 

A Hepburn film begins with her scooting around in six- 
teen different directions, dreaming of freedom and glamour 
and love in the abstract. It ends with her purring contentedly 
in the arms of a man who has shown her that the pleasures 
of real love are infinitely more satisfying than those of a 
schoolgirl's romantic imagination. Now, other girls have 
played this type before, but what makes Hepburn a distinc- 
tive personality is the utter seriousness with which she seems 
to take herself. There is never any surface silliness in her 
work. Her deep, dark, ever-widening eyes seem to absorb 
everything which is important to the proper coming of age 
of Audrey Hepburn — a process so delightful that it is ap- 
parently infinitely repeatable. 



Audrey Hepb 



urn 



As Rima in Green Mansions. 





Monroe and Gable in The 
Misfits, Arthur Miller s 
hymn of love for his wife 
— one Marilyn Monroe. 



Bus Stop : In which the 

world discovered Monroe 

was really an actress. 

Arthur O'Connell co-starred. 



264 




MARILYN 



The week before she took an overdose of sleeping pills 
and died, a magazine printed an interview with Marilyn 
Monroe in which she said: "That's the trouble, a sex symbol 
becomes a thing. I just hate being a thing." But because 
symbols are so much easier to manipulate (and to compre- 
hend) than individuals, the world insisted that she remain 
one. She struggled against this fate and the record of that 
struggle, sometimes comic, more frequently touching, filled 
pages of the public prints and many moments in the conver- 
sations of ordinary people who, in more limited ways, must 
fight the same fight for identity. In the end, it became neces- 
sary for Marilyn Monroe to break off the unequal combat. 
She died the way the movie stars of fiction so frequently do, 
and on the morning that it happened one could find shock 
and sorrow but no real surprise. The symbol died with sym- 
bolic Tightness. Her death had about it an air of inevitability, 
perhaps even of tragedy. 

That tragedy was a painfully obvious one. It was, reduced 
to simplest terms, the story of a beautiful fantasist who suf-. 
fered the construction of an ersatz personality by various 
experts, achieved fame as a result, and then learned that 
there can be no happiness when reality is flouted too long. 
But it is important to understand the problem in more com- 
plicated terms. She came, in time, to be her audience ("I 
remember when I turned to the microphone I looked all the 
way up and back and I thought, 'That's where I'd be — way 
up there under the rafters, close to the ceiling, after I'd paid 
my $2 to come into the place.' ") . It takes a stronger mind 
than she possessed to be an image, an observer of the image, 
and a person in her own right. A few stars have been the 
successful executive presiding over an alienated self which 
is but a product. She was not one of them. 

But she did not do badly. She learned that "sexuality is 
only attractive when it's natural and spontaneous" and 
somehow she was able to give us a vision of sex and pleasure 
that was direct, honest, funny but unsniggering. In the end 
she and her admirers and advisors sought to wrap the re- 
spectable cloak of art about her presence. In the context of 
her times, this may have seemed necessary, but it should be 
firmly noted that her natural presence was its own reward, 
her ability to project it freely something beyond mere arti- 
fice and quite aside from art. Perhaps her best epitaph is a 
line from Auden's memorial poem to Yeats: "You were silly 
like us; your gift survived it all." 



JBgr 







The quintessential Marilyn as photographed by Richard Avedon. 



265 




Two aspects of Moses as conceived by Heston and director Cecil B. DeMille 



CHARLTON HESTON 

Trusty, brave, clean and reverent 



At first, everyone thought Charlton Heston was under- 
acting. Reviewing his first film, Bosley Crowther of the 
New York Times found in him "a quiet but assertive mag- 
netism, a youthful dignity." Three years later, Variety was 
noting that one of his performances was "forthright, steely- 
eyed" and that "he has a superb manner of underplaying 
through voice and a minimum of gestures." 

Then came the string of spectacles in super-duper scope, 
The Greatest Show on Earth, The Ten Commandments, The 
Big Country, Ben-Hur, El Cid, and all of a sudden it began 
occurring to people that Heston was acting with all the pas- 
sion at his command, that the curiously lifeless gestures and 
the general stiffness of his demeanor were about all he 
could manage and that, oddly, they were priceless com- 
modities. He in no way interfered with the expensive scenery, 
the mobs of people, the general air of expensive expan- 
siveness that are the real stars of a movie spectacle. In addi- 
tion, he has the physical stature and presence not to be 
overwhelmed by a film of huge scope. He is, as someone sug- 
gested, the Francis X. Bushman of his time. 

Which is not quite fair to Heston. For he is a serious, 
sincere and intelligent individual who has repeatedly made 
financial sacrifices in order to broaden his acting range. He 
accepted considerably less than his usual fee in order to 



work under Orson Welles' direction in Touch of Evil, a 
small, gamey, superbly sadistic murder melodrama; he at- 
tempted a dreadful Broadway play, The Juggler, in order 
to work under Laurence Olivier's direction. "I don't want 
to get stuck doing one thing," he has said. "Once the public 
gets you pegged you can't escape." 

Heston claims he has wanted to act since he was five 
years old and played Santa Claus in a school production. 
He studied theater at Northwestern University and, while 
there, appeared in a remarkable 16-mm. film of Julius 
Caesar which he and his fellow students shot in and around 
Chicago — of all places. A few parts on Broadway in the late 
forties led directly to Hollywood and film stardom. 

It may be that he is too intelligent to do the kind of 
subtle, emotional acting that is the essence of good screen 
work. In any event, it is his misfortune to be rather noble 
in appearance and, hence, to be a natural choice for roles 
requiring an aristocratic bearing. He himself has said that 
some actors seem to have faces that belong to certain his- 
torical eras. William Holden, he says, is the perfect modern 
American, Henry Fonda the perfect antebellum American. 
Bogart the urban American. And what is Heston's historical 
era? "Apparently somewhere before Christ," he says a 



little sadly. 



267 



liOCjJv nUlJbOiN The constructed hero 




Hudson in hot pursuit of Lollobrigida in Come September. 



"I think," Rock Hudson has been heard to say, "that I'm 
rather average." In terms of talent, the statement is certainly 
true enough. Despite a recently discovered — and quite 
modest — ability to play light comedy, it has to be said that 
his chief attribute seems to be a rather dogged determina- 
tion to do the right thing. By dint of constant effort, which 
makes one uncomfortable, the way unnatural things do, he 
gets through his parts. In comedies like Pillow Talk and 
Lover Come Back, shrewd directors have made his unease 
a comic virtue, and his good-natured goofiness, while hardly 
a challenge to Cary Grant, is quite amusing. But in serious 
roles, Hudson communicates nothing so much as strain. 
Since he is really too pretty to be believed as a Western 
hero, that traditional refuge of the non-actor is denied him. 
Still, average though his talent may be, Hudson's road to 
stardom was exceptional. A truck driver, he habitually 
parked near studio gates, arranged himself against a fender 
and awaited discovery. It was agent Henry Willson, a spe- 
cialist in oddly named leading men for the teen-age market, 



who guided him upward. Observing Roy Fitzgerald's mas- 
sive proportions and rather slow ways of speech and move- 
ment, this unacclaimed genius found his thoughts turning 
to things as steadfast as the Rock of Gibraltar, as majestic as 
the Hudson River. Thus did Willson achieve his greatest 
triumph of nomenclature. 

Hudson came to greatness — if that is the word for it — 
in the faceless fifties, when the demand for oddly angled 
personalities, particularly among the teen-agers (increasing- 
ly the majority of moviegoers), reached its lowest point. 
Hudson's screen personality, rubbed down by a hundred 
eager craftsmen, was polished as smooth as a piece of sand- 
stone worn by the river whose name he bore. In a way, he 
was dehumanized. He became an everyman who was also a 
nobody — a kind of generalized dream American. In a way 
it is too bad; there has to be something interesting about a 
fellow who attempts to get discovered the way Hudson did. 
One would have liked to know the young man leaning against 
that truck. 



268 




The Number One box-office attraction (male) gives the screen's Number 
One box-office attraction (female) a lift. The film is Pillow Talk. 



269 



» 2 * 



L 






^ 



Shirley MacLaines first movie, the charming The Trouble with Harry. 



The new breed SHIRLEY MACLAINE 



One magazine called Rock Hudson a "stolid gold invest- 
ment," and as a kind of least-common-denominator hero 
he achieved, late in the decade, a steady place as the films' 
top box-office attraction. But the decade produced more in- 
teresting phenomena than Hudson and his ilk. There was, 
for instance, a marvelously kookie girl named Shirley 
MacLaine, a sometime chorine and understudy in Broadway 
musicals. Replacing an ailing star, she was spotted by Alfred 
Hitchcock, who cast her in a hilarious shaggy-dog story 
called The Trouble with Harry (1954), very likely the best 
film Hitchcock did during the decade. It was, to put it mild- 
ly, a picture for people of special tastes, but Miss MacLaine's 
totally distracted, deadpan performance was a wonder. In- 
side of five years, her salary went from $6,000 to $250,000 



per picture. 

Possessed of a beautifully leggy form and a childlike, re- 
markably expressive face, she is a direct, spontaneous and 
completely natural actress. "In front of the cameras I have 
to be careful what I think," she has said, "because it all 
shows." In a button-down age, she is completely — though 
not insistently — uninhibited, and it may be a measure of 
the time's repressiveness that a woman who is simply her- 
self should come to seem something of an eccentric. Miss 
MacLaine's appeal was best summed up by a producer 
who said, "Everything she does is real, the way she picks 
up a pen or a cup of coffee, the way she eats a sandwich." 
"She has," adds a director, "the honesty of a person living 
each moment as it happens." 




Not Grauman s Chinese, just a publicity 
stunt for the Indianapolis Speedway. 
Right, as she appeared in Hot Spell. 




The new breed JACK LEMMON 




The Bright Young Man on the rise, thanks to The Apartment. 



Jack Lemmon's comedy is that of quiet desperation, and 
it is possible that his screen personality will someday seem 
to be the comic quintessence of his age. For he is superbly, 
supremely the new American, college educated, an organiza- 
tion man, trying gamely to retain the old American values, 
yet still striving for a secure place within the oversystema- 
tized system. 

The essence of Lemmon's screen presence was dem- 
onstrated in a scene in The Apartment. He is at his anon- 
ymous junior-executive desk, one of hundreds in a huge, 
factorylike room. He has a terrible cold which he is 
fighting with Kleenex, pills, a nasal inhaler. But it is 
necessary, without calling attention to himself and without 
seeming anxious or angry, to rearrange the schedule of 
executives who have taken to using his apartment for illicit 
romantic rendezvous. Armed with an appointment pad, a 
Rolodex, a telephone and all the cliches of polite business 
usage, he begins to elicit their cooperation in his changed 
plans. The scene is a vicious parody of the manners and 



morals of the business community by a man who loathes its 
ways yet must live with them. His cruel dilemma is explored 
and exploited in a piece of acting that is one of the small 
gems of recent years. 

Lemmon is, in background, very like the Bright Young 
Men he plays so well. He was educated in prep schools and 
at Harvard, and he was a junior officer in the Navy. There- 
after, he turned to acting and scored his first successes in 
television. His first movie role as a characteristically eager 
and sincere young man, was It Should Happen to You 
( 1954 ) . As a serious actor he is caught in a dilemma very 
like that which might plague one of his characters. He told 
an interviewer about the perils of success: "Suddenly you 
find that you're only giving two performances a year. You're 
a success as an actor, but vast limitations have been placed 
in your work. If you defy the system — take a character role, 
as many fine actors in England do — then you're not a star 
any more, and the best pictures won't be offered to you." 



272 



t 



& 




The Bright Young Man at play, or at least trying hard. 



273 



The old magic SOPHIA LOREN 



"In spite of having the usual womanly defects," says 
Vittorio De Sica, "she is the only really spiritually honest 
woman I have ever known." Thus, Sophia Loren, a woman 
whose beauty is triumphantly greater than the sum of its 
parts, a poor Italian child who in the space of a few years 
has become not merely a world-wide object of desire but 
an actress of considerable depth. If our taste in love god- 
desses is shifting away from glamorous emptiness, then 
Sophia Loren is both product and instigator of that shift. 

In effect, she is a Hollywood star, since nearly all of her 
films are financed by the American industry, but her best 
work has been done in the movies which the industry has 
filmed elsewhere. Run-away production threatens the exist- 
ence of Hollywood as a film capital, but it may be the salva- 
tion of its vitality as a creative force. The films Sophia 
Loren made there are uniformly strained, cliche-ridden, and 
artificial. The pictures she has made elsewhere have, for the 
most part, allowed her to be her fiery, humorous, deeply 
sensual self. 

She is seen best in a natural light. A natural wonder, after 
all, needs no re-enforcement by an architect. Says De Sica: 
"Sophia is a typical result of today's Italian cinema. She 
represents the artistic expression we look for, the lack of 
speculation based on effects. The American cinema, with all 
its mechanism, is no more than an industry. Art doesn't 
enter into it. Our cinema is more precarious, but our people 
have individualism." 

It is a fact that Miss Loren retains her individuality yet 
manages to be a universal symbol of the desirability of the 
unaffected, completely natural woman. That is the key to her 
sudden emergence as the foremost leading lady of our time. 
She is the very opposite of what the European woman used 
to represent in the movies. There is nothing vampish about 
her, and parenthetically we may note that the European 
woman has, since the war, come to represent a new sexual 
ideal — unteasing directness. Miss Loren does not tease. One 
knows that she will keep her promise of delight. 




The Fabulous Feline in a playful humor. 



Loren as she appeared in It Happened in 
Naples, a fairy tale about an alley cat 
who dared look at The King — Clark Gable. 



275 



The old magic 1 OJN Y 

CURTIS 





r~i?v 




Match me, Sidney" Sweet Smell of Success was one of Curtis' best. 



There is a story, possibly apocryphal, of a young man 
named Bernie Schwartz, who most desperately wanted to be 
an actor. As a child in the Bronx, he had been permanently 
but charmingly seduced by incessant attendance at the neigh- 
borhood movie house. As a sailor during World War II, 
he had nurtured his dream of being a dashing star through 
the long, dull watches of submarine duty. Mustered out, he 
became a hanger-on with a young comedian then working 
with Perry Como. Emerging one night from a theater, 
Como was surrounded by a mob of squealing fans who, in 
their eagerness, even thrust their autograph books at 
Schwartz, who began delightedly to scribble away. "Hey, 
kid, what are you doing? You're not even in show business," 
cried the bemused Como. "I'm trying, I'm trying," shouted 
Schwartz. 

Not long afterward he found himself under contract to 
Universal-International pictures, and the transformation of 
Bernie Schwartz to Tony Curtis began at the last studio to 
retain a genuine program for the training of young talent. 
"I was a million-to-one shot," Curtis now says, "the least 
likely to succeed. I wasn't low man on the totem pole, I was 
276 



The bad old days — The Black Shield of Falworth. 

under the totem pole, in a sewer, tied in the sack." But that 
tough, cheerful eagerness that has became his screen 
essence endeared him to many on the lot — among them the 
publicity man. Curtis found himself in parts consisting of 
no more than saying "Woo-woo" but, thanks to the P.R. 
men, a star as far as the youthful readers of the fan maga- 
zines were concerned. They built up tremendous pressure for 
him, capped by a mob scene at a San Francisco theater 
where he was making a personal appearance. This led him 
into a string of program pictures which no one but the 
kids took seriously. He played cowboys and caliphs with his 
Bronx accent, then went into a series of films with dis- 
tinguished stars. 

"I educated my fans," he says. "They began to say to 
themselves, 'Well, Burt Lancaster don't play scenes with 
bums.' " He also educated the highbrows. In pictures like 
Sweet Smell of Success he projected a tough, nervously 
energetic quality that separated him from his more placid 
contemporaries and suddenly caused the critics to notice 
him. Now, more than able to carry a film by himself, he is 
a strangely appealing, old fashioned star. 

Tony Curtis and Sidney Pokier in The Defiant Ones. 



. 




- 



ELIZABETH TAYLOR The last 



star 




The beginnings of stardom. Little Liz in National Velvet. 



Elizabeth Taylor receives the highest salary any actor 
has ever attained. It is fitting, for since the age of eight 
Miss Taylor has had no identity but as an actress or, more 
accurately, as a public personality. For good or ill, her en- 
tire life has been devoted to living a dream peculiar to her 
time and place. She was even so unlucky as to have no 
adolescent awkward age which would have given her respite, 
however temporary, from life in public. In short, she was, 
is and will forever be a movie star. There is no other sig- 
nificant fact to record about her life — for that fact has in- 
formed nearly every waking moment of her every day. 

George Stevens, the director for whom she gave two of 
her best performances (in A Place in the Sun and in Giant), 
has said that "She was kept in a cocoon by her mother, by 
her studio, by the fact that she was the adored child who 
had had everything she wanted since she was eight years old. 
What most people don't know is that there has been a 
smoldering spirit of revolt in Elizabeth for a long time." 

Her mother had once had a modest acting career herself, 
but it had been cut short by her marriage to Francis Taylor, 
an art dealer. Eventually they settled in Los Angeles. "It was 
almost impossible to believe— finding myself in the film 
capital with my children," said Mrs. Taylor. She determined- 
ly set about making them into stars. Elizabeth's brother, 
Howard, would have none of it. He went so far as to shave 
his head on the eve of one screen test. 

Elizabeth, however, was not so strong — though she has 
frequently placed on public record her admiration for her 
brother's independence. She had one small part at Universal 
before her option was dropped. Then, in 1942, during a 
blackout, her air raid warden father fell into conversation 
with a fellow warden, producer Sam Marx, who was looking 
for a child to appear opposite Roddy MacDowell in Lassie 
Come Home. Elizabeth read for the part and got it. Two 
years later, at age twelve, she had the lead in the memorable 
National Velvet. 

Two years after that she could have played a mature 
woman. Even as a child star she had a fascinating air of 



278 



The princess awakens. Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, A Place in the Sun. 








J 



/ 



experience about her. The casting director who had dropped 
her said, "Her eyes are too old. She doesn't have the face 
of a kid." It is a quality which has persisted, a major part 
of the excitement she creates, though now the eyes give the 
illusion not of age but of ageless womanly wisdom. 

In the forties and fifties Elizabeth Taylor endured, though 
it could not be said that she prevailed. She began to hate 
the Hollywood that had robbed her of her childhood, sul- 
lenly played her parts with no more than rudimentary grace. 
She could not act, she could only give the illusion of exist- 
ence. Cast as a willful child-woman, the natural development 
of the womanly child she had been, she was adequate, but it 
was her perfect beauty that kept her steadily, uninterestingly, 
before the cameras. 

Then came her marriage to Mike Todd. "More than any- 
one realizes, Mike was responsible for the intellectual and 
emotional awakening of this girl," director Joseph Mankie- 
wicz said. "For all his flamboyance, he was a man of an 
infinite variety of interests . . . she had been a sort of 
Sleeping Beauty in an isolated castle. Mike took her through 
the cobweb to the other world. . . ." 

In touch with reality of a sort, Elizabeth Taylor began to 
add new dimensions to her screen presence. Her roles were 
very much in the mode that had become customary for her, 
but now they were touched by life — especially after the 
deeply felt tragedy of Todd's death in a plane crash. The 
rest is current history — the loss of public affection when she 
broke up the Eddie Fisher— Debbie Reynolds marriage, the 
regaining of that affection (and an Academy Award) in the 
sentimental orgy surrounding her near death in London, the 
epochal off-screen romance during the making of Cleopatra 
and the ending of her marriage to Fisher. In her work she 
may now be able to touch reality as never before. But her 
life itself, that curious compound of legend and unreality, 
will never seem anything but a fantasy, an inextricable 
tangle of the real and the unreal which she, least of all, 
seems capable of sorting out. 

In a sense, Elizabeth Taylor is a reversion to the super- 
romantic stars of the silent screen, deliberately out of touch 
with common mortality. If that is true, then there will never 
be another movie star like her, for the system that produced 
them and, in its dying hours, produced Elizabeth Taylor, is 
now gone forever. 




280 




The actress awakens. Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. 

281 




Perhaps the symbols are too obvious: Chaplin at the 
beginning of his career, tremulously eager, awaiting a gift 
from the sea; James Mason in the 1954 remake of A Star is 
Born wading into the same sea to commit suicide. Playing 
a fading star in a fading industry, Mason, in this scene from 
a romantic and sentimental film — pure Hollywood — provides 
the coda to our study of that most peculiar of democratic 
social institutions, the movie star. As institutions go, it has 
had a short life. 

There will be, doom-sayers to the contrary, at least another 
fifty years of stars. Individuals will dominate the screen as 
dictatorially as any in the past. They will attain those heights 
of celebrity which, in our democratic fashion, we so mightily 
deprecate and envy. But these stars will not be stars of the 
movies alone. They will exercise their talents (or, if they 
have none, their primal appeals) in a wide variety of media. 
They will, as never before, be the masters of their own fate 
and, with studio system virtually destroyed, it will be less 
possible to fabricate a personality for a beautiful dope. 
Tastes being what they are these days, stars may even have 
to do more acting, in the conventional meaning of the term, 
than they ever did. 

The late Buddy Adler saw doom in. the naturalism which 
has been creeping across Hollywood in the last fifteen years. 
"We're dealing in illusion," he said, "and when the Elizabeth 
Taylors and Marilyn Monroes start to think and want to live 
normal lives like everyone else, soon we won't have any 
illusions left to sell." But Adler reckoned without democracy, 
especially as we have known it since 1932. Your true demo- 
crat is more interested in processes than in product, enjoys 
being privy to illusions. Somehow, the knowledge that it is 
all done with mirrors makes him even more eager to sur- 
render his disbelief at the box office. The democratization 
of movie stardom is a long-term trend, and it will continue. 
There will, in future, be fewer of them, but they will continue 
to exist. We need them. 



THE END 



282 







V"'-' 






\^C3h t %' 



283 



INDEX 



Adler, Buddy, 282 

Adler, Luther, 176 

African Queen, The, 168; (Ulus.), 169, 195 

Agee, James, 25, 27, 100, 148, 220, 241 

Algiers, 153, 212; (Ulus.), 153 

All About Eve, 148 

All Quiet on the Western Front, 114 

Allyson, June, 222, 223; (Ulus.), 223 

Anastasia, 230 

Anatomy of a Murder, 206 

Anchors Aweigh (Ulus.) , 259 

Anderson, Broncho Billy, 19 

Adventures of Robin Hood, The, 174 

Animal Crackers, 104 

Animal Kingdom, The, 151 

Anna Christina, 134; (Ulus.), 134 

Apartment, The, 272; (Ulus.), 272 

Arbuckle, Fatty, 56-57, 92 

Arch of Triumph (Ulus.) , 152 

Arliss, George, 148 

Armstrong, Louis, 261 

Arthur, Jean, 154 

Arvidson, Linda, 11 

Asphalt Jungle, The, 265 

Astaire, Adele, 141 

Astaire, Fred, 140-43; (Ulus.), 140, 141, 142, 

143 
Astor, Mary, 197 
Atkinson, Brooks, 151 
Avedon, Richard, 265 

Babes in Arms (Ulus.), 136, 137 

Bacall, Lauren, 195 

Bad Day at Black Rock, 204 

Baggott, King, 12 

Bainbridge, John, 85 

Bambi, 111 

Bandwagon, The (Ulus.), 143 

Banky, Vilma, 74, 76-77; (Ulus.), 77 

Bara, Theda, 12, 21, 31; (Ulus.), 30, 31 

Barker, Roland, 211 

Bardot, Brigitte, 32 

Barefoot Contessa, The, 239; (Ulus.), 194 

Bargain, The, 28 

Barrymore, John, 14, 60, 62-65; (Ulus.), 62, 

63, 64, 65, 168 
Bartholomew, Freddie, 136 
Bayne, Beverly, 76 
Beal, John (Ulus.), 165 
Beat the Devil (Ulus.), 192 
Beery, Wallace, 134 
Belasco, David, 34 
Bell, Book, and Candle (Ulus.), 247 
Bellamy, Ralph, 155 
Beloved Infidel, 241 
Beloved Rogue, The (Ulus.), 62, 64 
Ben-Hur, 243, 267 
Bennett, Constance, 114 
Bergman, Ingrid, 16, 151, 229-30; (Ulus.), 

153, 228, 229, 231, 232 
Berkeley Square, 151 
Best Years of Our Lives, The, 164 
Bhowani Junction (Ulus.) , 238 
Big Broadcast, 225 
Big Country, The, 267 
Big Parade, The, 80, 113 
Big Sleep, The, 195; (Ulus.), 193 
Bill of Divorcement, A, 65, 168; (Ulus.) , 168 
Biograph, 11, 12, 20, 23, 34, 58 
Birth of a Nation, The, 20, 56 
Bitzer, Billy, 20 
Blackmer, Sidney (Ulus.), 120 
Black Shield of Falsworth, The (Ulus.), 276 
Blackwood, Carlyle, 21 
Blind Husbands, 73 
Blonde Bombshell (Ulus.), 125 
Blondell, Joan (Ulus.), 123 
Blossoms in the Dust, 220 
Blue Angel, The, 130 
Body and Soul, 176 



Bogart, Humphrey, 15, 69, 190-95, 197, 203, 
267; (Ulus.), 191, 192, 193, 194, 195 

Bolger, Ray (Ulus.), 139 

Boom Town (Ulus.), 203 

Borgnine, Ernest, 204 

Bow, Clara, 40, 54, 188; (Ulus.), 54, 55 

Boyer, Charles, 153; (Ulus.), 152, 153 

Boys Town, 136, 204 

Brando, Marlon, 15, 252, 254-57; (Ulus.), 254- 
55, 256, 257 

Brent, George (Ulus.), 148 

Broadway Melody of 1936, 162 

Broadway Melody of 1938, 138 

Broadway to Hollywood, 136 

Broken Arrow, 209 

Broken Dishes, 147 

Broun, Heywood, 65 

Browning, Tod, 133 

Bunny, John, 19 

Burlesque, 167 

Bushman, Francis X., 21, 76 

Bus Stop (Ulus.), 264 

Cagney, James, 14, 15, 120, 122, 190; (Ulus.), 

122-23 
Caine Mutiny, The, 233 
Calder, Alexander, 16 
Call Northside 777, 208 
Camille, 162 
Capote, Truman, 193 
Capra, Frank, 101 
Captain Blood, 174 

Captains Courageous, 136, 204; (Ulus.), 203 
Caravan, 153 
Carbine Williams, 209 
Carmen ( Ulus. ) , 93 
Casablanca, 192, 229 
Case of the Curious Bride, 174 
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Ulus.), 281 
Cattle Queen of Montana (Ulus.), 167 
Chandler, Raymond, 119, 195 
Chaney, Lon, 70, 133; (Ulus.), 71 
Chaney, Lon, Jr. (Ulus.), 133 
Chaplin, Charlie, 92-96, 161, 214, 282; (Ulus.), 

90-91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 282 
Charisse, Cyd (Ulus.), 143 
Charm School, The (Ulus.) , 57 
Chaser, The (Ulus.), 101 
Christopher Columbus (Ulus.), 164 
Citizen Kane, 181; (Ulus.), 178, 180 
City Lights, 96 
Clark, Mae, 14 
Cleopatra, 158, 280 
Clift, Montgomery, 252-53, 255; (Ulus.) , 252, 

253, 259 
Cobb, Lee J. (Ulus.) , 249, 256 
Cohan, George M., 122 
Colbert, Claudette, 153-54, 158; (Ulus.), 158, 

159, 199 
Colman, Ronald, 76-77, 185; (Ulus.), 77 
Come Back, Little Sheba (Ulus.), 250 
Come September (Ulus.), 268 
Command Decision (Ulus.), 222 
Como, Perry, 276 
Coney Island (Ulus.), 216 
Confess ( Ulus. ) , 252 
Conquering Power, The (Ulus.) , 46 
Coogan, Jackie (Ulus.), 94 
Cooke, Alistair, 36, 85 
Cooper, Gary, 185-88, 192, 197, 234; (Ulus.), 

184, 185, 186, 187, 188, 230, 262 
Cornell, Katherine, 179 
Corn Is Green, The, 148 
Costello, Dolores, 60, 61, 65 (Ulus.), 60 
Country Girl The, 260; (Ulus.) , 227 
Cover Girl, 218; (Ulus.), 218 
Covered Wagon, The, 28 
Cowley, Malcolm, 40 
Crawford, Joan, 66-69, 141; (Ulus.), 66, 67, 

68, 69, 142, 198 



284 



Crosby, Bing, 217, 226; (illus.), 226-27 

Crowther, Bosley, 267 

Curtis, Tony, 276; ( illus. ) , 276, 277 

Damita, Lili, 175 

Dancing Lady, The, 141; (illus.), 142, 198 

Dark Victory, 148; (illus.), 148 

Davidson, Bill, 203 

Davies, Marion, 12, 14 

Davis, Bette, 147-49; (illus.), 146, 147, 148-49 

Day, Doris (ill us.), 269 

Dean, James (illus.), 245 

Deerslayer, The, 56 

Defiant Ones, The (illus.), 277 

De Havilland, Olivia (illus.), 253 

Del Rio, Dolores, 58-60, 61; (illus.), 59 

DeMille, Cecil B., 40, 48-49, 56, 57, 158, 236; 

(illus.), 13 
De Sica, Vittorio, 275 
Desire, 130 

Destry Rides Again, 130, 208 
Diamond Lil, 233 
Dickson, William Kennedy, 19 
Dietrich, Marlene, 129-30; (illus.), 128, 130, 

131 
Dinner at Eight, 65; (illus.), 124 
Disney, Walt, 111 
Disneyland, 111 
Don Juan, 65 
Don Juan in Hell, 153 
Double Indemnity, 167 
Douglas, Melvyn, 87; (illus.), 86 
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, 62, 204, 229 
Dracula, 133; ( jV/ms. ) , 132 
Dressier, Marie, 134; (illus.), 92, 134 
Duck Soup, 104 

Dumont, Margaret, 104, 107; (illus.), 107 
Durbin, Deanna, 138 

Ecstasy, 212; (illus.), 212 
Edison, Thomas A., 11, 19, 20 
Edison the Man, 136 
El Cid, 267 

Ellis, Diane (illus.), 154 
Elmer Gantry, 250 
Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 36 
Every Sunday, 138 

Fairbanks, Douglas, Sr., 12, 21, 34, 36, 40; 

(illus.), 35, 36, 37 
Famous Players, 34 
Fanny, 153 
Farber, Manny, 127 
Farewell to Arms, A {illus.), 187 
Farmer Takes a Wife, The, 156 
Farnum brothers, 21 
Farrar, Geraldine, 56 
Farrell, Charles, 76, 77; (illus.), 76 
Father of the Bride (illus.) , 204-5 
Fay, Frank, 209 
Ferrer, Jose, 207 
Fiedler, Leslie, 187 
Fields, W. C, 104, 109-10; (illus.), 108, 109, 

110 
Fisher, Eddie, 280 
Fitzgerald, F. Scott, 39, 54, 117 
Flesh and the Devil, 80 
Flirtation Walk (illus.), 118 
Flynn, Errol, 15-16, 172-75 
Fonda, Henry, 156, 207, 267; (illus.), 156, 157 
Fools for Scandal (illus.), 155 
Fool There Was, A (illus.), 31 
Ford, John, 41, 234, 236 
Foreman, Carl, 243 
Forever, 56 

Fort Apache (illus.), 237 

For Whom the Bell Tolls, 229; (illus.), 230 
Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The, 47 
Fox, William, 12, 20 
Francis, Kay, 211 



Frankenstein, 133 

Free Soul, A, 197, 199, 200 

French Doll, The (illus.), 53 

From Here to Eternity, 250, 258, 260; (illus.), 

259 
Fugitive, The, 60 
Fury, 203 

Gable, Clark, 14, 136, 154, 197-201, 203, 239; 

(illus.), 196, 197, 198, 199, 200, 201, 203, 

264 
Garbo, Greta, 14, 77, 79, 80, 82-87; (illus.), 

41, 79, 83, 84, 86, 87 
Gardner, Ava, 239; (illus.) , 238, 239 
Garfield, John, 176, 258; (illus.), 176, 177 
Garland, Judy, 136, 137, 138; (illus.), 138, 139 
Garson, Greer, 220, 222; (illus.), 220 
Gaslight, 229; (illus.) , 153 
Gaynor, Janet, 76, 77; (illus.), 76 
Gentleman's Agreement, 241 
Getlein, Frank, 10 
Giant, 278 

Gibson, William, 156 
Gigi, 263 
Gilbert, John, 14, 53, 77, 79, 115; (illus.), 79, 

80,81 
Gilda, 218; (illus.), 219 
Gish, Dorothy, 11, 14 
Gish, Lillian, 11, 14, 21 
Glass, Bonnie, .47 
Glenn Miller Story, The, 209 
Glyn, Elinor, 40, 54, 55, 57 
Goddard, Paulette, 214; (illus.) , 94, 215 
Going My Way, 226 
Golden Boy, 248; (illus.) , 249 
Goldwyn, Samuel, 34, 74 
Gone With the Wind, 61, 151, 198; (illus.), 

196 
Goodbye, Mr. Chips, 220 
Goodbye Again, 207 
Good Earth, The (illus.), 145 
Good Little Devil, The, 34 
Gosta Berling's Saga, 82, 85 
Go West, Young Man (illus.), 99 
Grable, Betty, 217; (illus.) , 216 
Grand Hotel, 65 

Grant, Cary, 230, 233; (illus.), 232, 233 
Grapes of Wrath, The, 156; (illus.), 157 
Great Dictator, The, 96; (illus.), 94, 95, 97 
Greatest Show on Earth, The, 267 
Great Train Robbery, The, 19, 20 
Greed, 73; (illus.) , 73 
Greene, Graham, 135 
Green Mansions, 52; (illus.), 263 
Griffith, David W., 11, 12, 20, 21, 23, 28, 34, 

41,73, 111, 114; (illus.), 13 
Gulliver Mickey (illus.), Ill 
Gunfighter, The (illus.) , 240 
Guy Named Joe, A, 222 
Gypsy Blood, 51 

Hall, Jon, 217 

Haley, Jack (illus.) , 139 

Hamilton, Jack, 138 

Hamlet, 62 

Hammett, Dashiell, 127 

Hampton, Benjamin, 32 

Hardwick, Elizabeth, 214 

Harlow, Jean, 125, 153, 197, 239; (illus.), 

124, 125 
Harold Lloyd's World of Comedy, 102 
Hart, William S., 12, 21, 27-28, 32, 74; 

(illus.), 20, 26, 27, 28,29 
Harvey, 209 

Hawks, Howard, 127, 193, 253 
Hayes, Helen, 186 
Hays, Will, 39, 40, 57 
Hay worth, Rita, 218, 239; (illus.), 142, 179 

218, 219 
Hearst, William Randolph, 12, 116 



Hecht, Ben, 154 

Heiress, The (illus.), 253 

Hemingway, Ernest, 129, 186 

Henie, Sonja, 169; (illus.), 170 

Hepburn, Audrey, 263; (illus.) , 262, 263 

Hepburn, Katherine, 168, 204; (illus.), 168, 

169 
Heston, Charlton, 267; (illus.), 266, 267 
High Noon, 187, 260; (illus.), 188 
High Society (illus.), 261 
His Glorious Night, 80; (illus.), 81 
Hitchcock, Alfred, 76, 209, 260, 271 
Hitler, Adolf, 51 
Holden, William, 248, 267; (illus.), 8, 248, 

249 
Hollywood Hallucination, 87 
Hondo (illus.), 235 
Hope, Bob, 217, 225; (illus.) ,224, 225 
Hot Spell (illus.), 27 1 
Houdini, Harry, 39 
Howard, Leslie, 151, 195; (illus.), 150, 151, 

228 
Howards of Virginia, The (illus.) , 233 
Hucksters, The, 239; (illus.), 200 
Hudnut, Richard, 44 

Hudson, Rock, 268, 271 ; (illus.) , 268, 269 
Humphrey, Maude, 195 

Hunchback of Notre Dame, The (illus.), 71 
Huston, Walter (illus.), 68 
Huxley, Aldous, 85 

/ Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, 114; 

(illus.), 144 
Idiot's Delight (illus.), 61 
// / Had a Million (illus.) , 109 
/ Live My Life (illus.), 66 
I'm No Angel, 116 
Ince, Thomas, 28 

Independent Motion Picture Co., 11 
Indiscreet (illus.), 232 
Ingram, Rex, 47 

Intermezzo, 151, 229; (illus.), 151, 228 
In the Wake of the Bounty, 174 
Isherwood, Christopher, 211 
It Happened in Naples (illus.), 274 
It Happened One Night, 158, 200; (illus.), 199 
It Should Happen to You, 272 
Ivanhoe, 162; (f7/us.),162 

Jannings, Emil, 130 

Jazz Singer, The, 113 

Jesse James, 156; (illus.), 156 

Jezebel, 148 

Jim Thorpe, All- American (illus.), 250 

Joan of Lorraine, 230 

Joan the Woman (illus.), 56 

Joe Smith, American, 220 

Johnny Apollo (illus.), 160-61 

Johnson, Nunnally, 195 

Johnson, Van, 222-23; (illus.), 222 

Jolson, Al, 113; (illus.), 114 

Jones, Jennifer (illus.), 192 

Jourdan, Louis (illus.) , 261 

Journey for Margaret, 220; (illus.) , 221 

Journey into Fear, 60 

Judgement at Nuremberg (illus.), 202 

Juggler, The, 267 

Julius Caesar, 267 

Karloff, Boris (illus.), 133 

Karne Comedy Company, 92 

Kauffman, Stanley, 14 

Keaton, Buster, 99, 100; (illus.), 89, 98, 99 

Keeler, Ruby, 119; (illus.), 118 

Keighley, William, 127 

Kelly, Gene (illus.), 218, 259 

Kelly, Grace, 198, 260; (illus.), 261 

Kennedy, Joseph P., 154 

Kern, Jerome, 218 

Kerr, Deborah, 260; (illus.), 260 



285 



Kerrigan, J. Warren, 21 

Keys of the Kingdom, The, 241 

Keystone Kops, 12, 21, 23, 92; (Mm.), 22 

Khan, Aly, 218 

Kid, The (illus.), 94 

Kid Auto Races at Venice, The, 92 

Killers, The, 250 

Kind Sir, 153 

King's Row, 214 

Kitty (illus.), 215 

Kramer, Stanley, 195 

Krutch, Joseph Wood, 40 

Ladd, Alan, 195, 246-47; alius.), 246 

Ladies of Leisure, 167 

Lady Eve, The, 167 

Lady from Shanghai, The (illus.), 179 

Laemmle, Carl, 11, 12, 20, 34, 73 

Lahr, Bert (illus.), 139 

Lamarr, Hedy, 212; (illus.) , 212, 213 

Lamour, Dorothy, 217; (illus.), 153, 217 

Lancaster, Burt, 250; (illus.), 250-51 

Langdon, Harry, 100-1; ( illus. ) , 100, 101 

Larceny Love (illus.) , 123 

La Rocque, Rod, 74, 76 

Lasky, Jessie, 56 

Lassie Come Home, 220, 278 

Last Mile, The, 200, 203 

Lawrence, Florence, 11-12; (illus.), 11 

Le Baron, William, 116 

Le Bon, Gustave, 14 

Leigh, Vivien (illus.), 257 

Lemmon, Jack, 272; (illus.) , 272, 273 

Leonard, Robert, 53 

Leroy, Mervyn, 214 

Les Miserables (illus.), 165 

Lewton, Val, 127 

Life of an American Fireman, The, 19 

Lights of New York, 113 

Lilac Time (illus.), 185 

Limelight (illus.), 95 

Lincoln, Elmo, 169 

Lindbergh, Charles, 113 

Lindstrom, Peter, 229 

Little Caesar (illus.), 120, 121 

Little Colonel, The (illus.), 135 

Little Foxes, The, 148 

Little Lord Fauntleroy (illus.), 33 

Lloyd, Harold, 102; (illus.), 102, 103 

Lloyds of London, 160 

Lockwood, Harold, 21 

Logan, Joshua, 207, 255 

Lombard, Carole, 154, 198; (illus.), 154, 155, 

197 
Long Pants (illus.), 100 
Loren, Sophia, 275; (illus.), 274, 275 
Lover Come Back, 268 
Love in the Afternoon (illus.), 262 
Lowe, Edmund (illus.), 158 
Loy, Myrna, 127, 203; (illus.), 126, 127 
Lubitsch, Ernst, 41, 51, 114 
Lund, John (j7/u5.),261 
Lundigan, William, 248 

McCormick, Myron, 207 
MacDowell, Roddy, 278 
MacLaine, Shirley, 271; (illus.), 270, 271 
Macomber Affair, The (illus.), 241 
Madame Dubarry, 58 
Magnificent Ambersons, The, 181 
Magnificent Rogue, The, 65 
Maid of Salem (illus.), 159 
Maltese Falcon, The, 192 
Manhattan Melodrama, 136 
Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, The, 241 
Mankiewicz, Joseph, 280 
Mann, Anthony, 127, 185 
Man Trap (illus.), 54 
Man Who Played God, The, 148 
March, Frederic, 158, 164; (illus.), 154, 164, 
165 



Marion, Frances, 134 

Marked Woman, 148; (illus.), 147 

Marriage-Go-Round, The, 153 

Marsh, Mae, 11 

Marx, Chico, 106, 107 

Marx, Groucho, 104, 106, 107 

Marx, Harpo, 106-107 

Marx, Sam, 278 

Marx Brothers, 104-7, 110; (illus.), 105, 106, 

107 
Marx Brothers Go West (illus.), 105 
Mason, James, 282; (illus.), 138, 283 
Mata Hari (illus.), 84 
Mathis, June, 47 

Mayer, Louis B., 85, 138, 168, 220 
Mayerling, 153 
Mazurki, Mike, 119 
Meet Me in St. Louis, 220 
Melies, George, 19 
Men, The, 254 

Menjou, Adolphe (illus.), 187 
Merrill, Gary, 147 
Merry Widow, The, 53, 80 
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 12, 41, 47, 60, 66, 68, 

80, 85, 116, 127, 200, 203. 208, 220, 243 
Mickey Mouse, 111; (illus.), HI 
Mildred Pierce, 68 
Milestone, Lewis, 114 
Miller, Arthur, 265 
Min and Bill, 134 
Minter, Mary Miles, 57 
Miracle Man, The, 71 
Misfits, The, 265; (illus.), 264 
Misleading Lady, The (illus.), 158 
Mix, Tom, 74; (illus.), 74, 75 
Moby Dick, 241 

Modern Times, 96, 214; (illus.), 95 
Mogambo, 197 

Monroe, Marilyn, 265; (illus.), 264, 265 
Monsieur Beaucaire, 44; (illus.), 45 
Moore, Colleen (illus.), 185 
Moran of the Lady Letty (illus.), 43 
Morgan, Thomas, 187 
Mr. Roberts (illus.), 157 
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, 208; (illus.), 

207, 208 
Mrs. Miniver, 61, 220 
Muni, Paul, 114, 145; (illus.), 144, 145 
Murder Man, 208 

Murray, Mae, 52-53; (illus.) , 52, 53 
Mutiny on the Bounty, 243 
My Man Godfrey, 154 
My Little Chickadee (illus.), 108 

Nagel, Conrad, 113 

National Velvet, 278; (illus.), 278 

Negri, Pola, 47, 49, 51; (illus.), 50, 51 

New York Hat, The (Mus.), 34 

Niblo, Fred, 85 

Night After Night, 116 

Nightmare Alley, 160 

Ninotchka, 87 ; (illus.) , 86 

Niven, David, 233 

Nolan, Lloyd (illus.) , 160-61 

Noose, The, 167 

Normand, Mabel, 11, 34, 57 

Nothing Sacred, 154; (illus.), 154 

No Time for Comedy, 208 

Novak, Kim, 247; (illus.), 247 

Novarro, Ramon, 115 

O'Brien, Margaret, 220, 222; (illus.), 221 

O'Brien, Pat, 203 

O'Connell, Arthur (illus.), 264 

Of Human Bondage, 148 

O'Grady, Billy, 207 

O'Hara, Maureen (illus.), 234 

O'Keefe, Dennis, 248 

Old Maid, The, 148 

Old Music, 220 

Olivier, Laurence, 267 



One-Eyed Jacks (illus.), 257 
On the Waterfront, 255; (illus.), 256 
Our Blushing Brides (illus.), 67 
Our Dancing Daughters, 66 
Owen, Catherine Dale, (illus.), 81 
Ox-Row Incident, The, 156 

Pagan Love Song (illus.), 170 

Pan, Hermes, 140 

Paramount, 28, 34, 47, 51, 53, 116 

Peck, Gregory, 241; (illus.) , 240, 241 

Penn, Arthur, 156 

Perelman, S. J., 23 

Petrified Forest, The, 148, 151, 195; (illus.), 

191 
Philadelphia Story, The, 168, 208 
Pickford, Mary, 12, 14, 21, 32-35; (illus.), 20, 

32, 33, 34, 35 
Pidgeon, Walter, 220 
Pillow Talk, 268; (illus.) , 269 
Pinocchio, 111 

Place in the Sun, A, 278; (illus.) , 279 
Poitier, Sidney (illus.), 277 
Pollard, Snub, 23 
Porter, Edwin S., 19 
Possessed (illus.), 67 
Powdermaker, Hortense, 10, 13 
Powell, Dick, 119; (illus.), 118, 119 
Powell, William, 125, 127; (illus.), 126, 127 
Power, Tyrone, 160; (illus.), 160, 161 
Prater Violet, 211 
Pride of the Yankees (illus.), 186 
Private Worlds, 153 
Prodigal, The (illus.), 215 
Public Enemy, 14, 114, 122; (illus.), 123 

Queen Christina, 79; (illus.), 79 
Queen fr?Hy, 9 



Quiet 



The (illus.), 2M 



Quo Vadis?, 162; (illus.), 163 

R. U. R., 203 

Raft, George, 116 

Rage in Heaven, 229 

Rain, 66; (illus.) , 68 

Rainer, Luise, 145 

Rainier, Prince, 261 

Ralston, Vera Hruba, 12 

Rambova, Natacha, 44 

Rand, C. H., 129 

Rappe, Virginia, 56 

Reagan, Ronald (illus.), 167 

Reap the Wild Wind, 236 

Rear Window, 260 

Red Dust, 197; (illus.), 239 

Red Gloves, 153 

Red-Headed Woman, 153 

Red River, 253 

Reed, Donna, 260 

Reeves, Steve, 53 

Reid, Hal, 56 

Reid, Wallace, 56-57; (illus.) , 56, 57 

Reinhardt, Max, 51 

Republic Pictures, 12, 69 

Reynolds, Debbie, 280 

Roach, Hal, 214 

Road to Morocco, The (illus.), 225 

Robinson, Edward G., 120, 190, 195; (illus.), 

120, 121 
Rogers, Ginger, 142; (illus.), 141, 143 
Rogers, Will (illus.), 115 
Roman Holiday, 263 
Romeo and Juliet, 179 
Rooney, Mickey, 136, 138, 239; (illus.), 136, 

137 
Roosevelt, Eleanor, 220 
Roosevelt, Franklin D., 220 
Roots of Heaven, The, 175 
Rope, 209 

Rosenberg, Paul, 16 
Ross, Lillian, 129 



286 



Rossellini, Roberto, 16, 230 
Royal Family, The, 164 
Russell, Rosalind, 154 

Sabrina, 263 

Safety Last (illus.) , 103 

Sainted Devel, The (illus.), 44 

St. John, Adela Rogers, 79 

Sands of Iwo Jima (illus.), 236 

San Francisco, 203 

Saratoga Trunk, 229; (illus.), 229 

Sargeant, Winthrop, 218 

Sayonara, 255; (illus.) , 254-55 

Schary, Dore, 220 

Schenck, Joseph, 58 

Schulberg, B. P., 54 

Schumach, Murray, 243 

Sea Beast, The, 65 

Search, The, 253 

Seastrom, Victor, 41, 82 

Seesaw Log, The, 156 

Selig Company, 74 

Selznick, David 0., 136, 229, 230 

Sennett, Mack, 23-25, 28, 92; (illus.), 25 

Sennett bathing beauties, 25; (illus.), 25 

Sergeant York (illus.), 184 

Shane, 246, 247; (illus.) , 246 

Shaunessy, Winifred, 44 

Shearer, Norma, 60-61, 150, 197, 200, 220; 

(illus.), 61, 199 
She Done Him Wrong, 116, 233 
Sheik, The, 47 

Sheridan, Ann, 214; (illus.), 214 
Shore, Dinah, 226 
Shoulder Arms (illus.), 96 
Shrike, The, 223 
Sign of the Cross, The, 158 
Silvers, Phil U7/us.),218 
Sinatra, Frank, 258, 260; (illus.), 258, 259 
Skin of Our Teeth, The, 253 
Sky's the Limit, The (illus.), 140 
Smith, Kent, 207 
Snows of Kilimanjaro, The, 241 
Snow White, 111 
Solid South, The, 147 
Solomon and Sheba, 160 
Son of Fury (illus.), 160 
Spirit of St. Louis, The, 209 
Spitfire, 151 
Stagecoach, 236 
Stalag 17, 248; (illus.), 249 
Stand Up and Cheer, 135 
Stanwyck, Barbara, 167; (illus.), 166, 167 
Star Is Born, A, 77, 282; (illus.), 138, 283 
Star-Spangled Rhythm (illus.), 226-27 
Steiger, Rod, 14-15 
Sterling, Ford, 92 
Stevens, George, 287 
Stewart, James, 206-9; (illus.), 206, 207, 208, 

209 
Stiller, Mauritz, 41, 82-85, 86 
Storm Center (illus.), 149 
Strange, Michael, 62 
Strange Interlude (illus.), 199 
Stratton Story, The, 209; (illus.), 223 
Street Angel (illus.), 76 
Streetcar Named Desire, A, 255; (illus.), 257 
Street of Sorrows, 85 
Stromboli, 230 
Sudden Fear ( illus. ) , 69 
Suddenly (illus.) , 258 
Sullavan, Margaret, 207 
Sullivan, Ed, 198, 230 
Summertime, 168 
Sumurun (illus.) , 50 
Sun Also Rises, The, 175 
Sunrise at Campobello, 220 
Sunset Boulevard, 73, 248; (illus.), 8, 248 
Sm/-/, 77ie, 229 
Swain, Mack, 92 
Swan, The (illus.), 261 



Swanson, Gloria, 14, 48, 49, 51, 248; (illus.), 

8, 48, 49, 248 
Sweet, Blanche, 11 

Sweet Smell of Success, 250, 276; (illus.) , 276 
Swing Time (illus.), 141 

Talmadge, Constance, 58 
Talmadge, Norma, 58, 61 ; (illus.) , 58 
Taming of the Shrew, The, 168; (illus.), 35 
Taylo fc Elizabeth, 278-80; (illus.), 278, 279, 

281 
Taylor, Francis, 278 
Taylor, Howard, 278 
Taylor, Robert, 162; (illus.), 162, 163 
Taylor, Robert Lewis, 110 
Taylor, Samuel, 34 
Taylor, William Desmond, 56, 57 
Temple, Shirley, 135-36; (illus.), 135 
Temptress, The, 85 
Ten Commandments, The, 57, 267; (illus.), 

266, 267 
Terror, The, 113 
Thalberg, Irving, 60, 61, 85, 134 
That Certain Feeling (illus.), 224 
There Shall Be No Night, 253 
They Won't Forget, 214 
Thief of Bagdad, The (illus.) , 37 
Thin Man, The, 127; (illus.), 126, 127 
Third Man, The (illus.), 181 
Three Ages of Man, The (illus.), 98 
Three Musketeers, The (illus.), 36 
Three Weeks, 40 
Three Wise Fools (illus.), 106 
Tierney, Gene (illus.), 160 
Tillie's Punctured Romance (illus.), 92 
To Catch a Thief, 260 
Todd, Mike, 280 
Too Much, Too Soon, 175 
Torrent, 85 

Touch of Evil, 267; (illus.), 181 
Tracy, Spencer, 14, 136, 203-4, 222; (illus.), 

169, 202, 203, 204, 205 
Treasure of Sierra Madre, 192; (illus.), 

193 
Triangle Pictures, 28 

Trouble with Harry, The, 271 ; (illus.) , 270 
Truex, Ernest (illus.), 186 
Tully, Jim, 80 

Turner, Lana, 214; (illus.), 215 
Turpin, Ben (illus.), 24 
Twentieth Century-Fox, 154, 230 
Two-Faced Woman, 86, 87 
Two Rode Together, 209 
Tyler, Parker, 27, 87, 117, 212 
Tynan, Kenneth, 85, 86, 87, 122, 179, 192 

Under My Skin (illus.), 176 
United Artists, 34, 49, 58 
Universal-International, 73, 276, 278 

Valentino, Rudolph, 14, 17, 40, 42-47, 51; 

(illus.) , 42-43, 44, 45, 46, 47 
Van Dyke, W. S. (Woody), 127 
Veblen, Thorstein, 109 
Velez, Lupe, 188 
Vidor, King, 41 

Violin Maker of Cremona, The, 34 
Virginian, The, 188 
Virgin Queen, The (illus.), 146 
Vitagraph, 12 
Viva Zapata, 255 
Von Sternberg, Josef, 130 
Von Stroheim, Erich, 9, 21, 41, 53, 73, 80; 

(illus.), 72, 73 
Wald, Jerry, 66, 195, 247 
Walpole, Hugh, 117 

War Against Mrs. Hadley, The, 220, 222 
War and Peace (illus.) , 263 
Warner Brothers, 68, 113, 145, 148, 195 
War of the Worlds, 179 
Warshow, Robert, 16, 96, 120, 190 



Wayne, John, 234-36, 253; (illus.), 234, 235, 

236, 237 
Webb, Clifton, 47 

Weissmuller, Johnny, 169; (illus.), 169 
Welles, Orson, 179-81, 267; (illus.), 178, 179, 

180, 181 
Wellman, William, 114, 127 
Wells, H. G., 179 
West, Mae, 116-17, 125, 233; dllus.), 108, 

116, 117 
Whale, James, 133 
What Price Glory?, 60 
When a Man Loves, 65 
White, Robert W., 183 
White Circle, The (illus.), 80 
White Heat, 122 
Whiteman, Paul, 226 
Why Worry? (illus.), 102 
Widmark, Richard, 15, 203 
Wilder, Billy, 167, 248, 263 
Wild, One, The, 255 
Williams, Esther, 169; (illus.), 170 
Williams, Kay, 198 
Willson, Henry, 268 
Winchester '73, 209 
Windust, Bretaigne, 207 
Wings, 113, 188 

Winning of Barbara Worth, The, 185, 188 
Wiser Sex, The (illus.), 159 
Wizard of Oz, The, 138; (illus.), 139 
Wylie, Philip, 167 
Wynn, Keenan (illus.), 200 

Yankee Doodle Dandy (illus.), 122 

Yates, Herbert, 12 

Yellow Jack, 208 

You Can't Take It with You, 208 

Young Doctors, The (illus.), 164 

Young Tom Edison, 136 

You Were Never Lovelier (illus.), 142 

Zinnemann, Fred, 188, 253, 260 

Zolotow, Maurice, 265 

Zukor, Adolph, 20, 21, 34, 42, 47, 49, 53 



287 



[Continued from front flap] 

with a keen sense of the realities of tin- present, 
its chapters on the Just two decades are particu- 
larly rewarding. It presents a feeling portrait of 
Ingrid Bergman, a fascinating study of John 
Wayne's prairie heroics, a light-hearted look at 
Hope and Croshy, plus examinations of BUch 
transitory hut oddly significant phenomena as 
The Brave Ones, The Pinups, the Boys and the 
Girl Next Door. The final chapter introduces us 
to The Somnambulists, The Fire and Ice Girls, 
the new sensitivity of heroes like Brando and 
Clift, the sunny sensuality of Sophia Loren. In 
addition, there are perceptive views of such 
children of our time as William Holden, Jack 
Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, and Rock Hudson. 
There is a moving interpretation of the life and 
times of Marilyn Monroe, recapturing her incom- 
parahle warmth, as well as a shrewd analysis of 
the trouhled girl who may well be the last of the 
super-stars, Elizabeth Taylor. 

But THE STARS is a book that is infinitely 
more than the sum of its parts. Placing the per- 
sonalities who made the movies firmly in the con- 
text of their times, it is astringment, tough-minded, 
intelligent, and witty about a subject that is 
usually treated superficially, sentimentally or sen- 
sationally. In its 400 pictures and 60,000 words 
THE STARS recreates, through the metaphor 
of the star, the very quality of the life we have 
led in the last half-century. Lovingly written, 
beautifully designed, THE STARS is one of 
those rare books that speaks brilliantly for itself, 
a book which will make you see with new insight 
some of the most familiar and celebrated figures 
of your time. 

RICHARD SCHICKEL has been senior edi- 
tor of both Shoiv and Look. He is the author of 
a previous book, The World of Carnegie Hall, and 
has contributed several hundred articles to such 
magazines as Esquire, The Reporter, Commentary. 
The Nation, The New Republic, The Progressive. 
Sports Illustrated. 

ALLEN HURLBURT is art director and mem- 
ber of the editorial board of Look. He has been 
regularly represented in the Art Directors' Club 
Annual Exhibitions and is a five-time winner of 
gold medal awards in 1948, '49, '55, '61 and '62. 
In addition, his work has been exhibited widely 
both here and abroad. 



Jacket design by Allen Hurlburt 



BONANZA BOOKS 

a division of Crown Publishers. Inc. 
419 Park Avenue South 
New York. X. Y. 10016 
ORP001250 

3771 



The K it ne Kops 
Will' S. Hart 
The. Jara 
Mai Pickford 
Douglas Fairbanks 
Rudolph Valentino 
Gloria Swanson 
Pola Negri 
Mae Murray 
Clara Bow 
Wallace Reid 
Norma Talmadge 
Dolores Del Rio 
Dolores Costello 
Norma Shearer 
John Barrymore 
Joan Crawford 
Lon Chaney 
Erich Von Stroheim 
Tom Mix 
Charles Farrell 
Janet Gaynor 
Vilma Bankey 
Ronald Coleman 
John Gilbert 
Greta Garbo 
Charles Chaplin 
Buster Keaton 
Harry Langdon 
Harold Lloyd 
The Marx Brothers 
W. C. Fields 
Mickey Mouse 
Mae West 
Dick Powell 
James Cagney 
Edward G. Robinson 
Jean Harlow 
Myrna Loy 
William Powell 
Marlene Dietrich 
The Monsters 
Marie Dressier 
Shirley Temple 
Mickey Rooney 
Judy Garland 
Fred Astaire 
Paul Muni 
Bette Davis 
Leslie Howard 
Charles Boyer 
ile Lombard 
y Fonda 



Claudette Colbert 
Tyrone Power 
Robert Taylor 
Barbara Stanwyck 
Fredric March 
Katharine Hepburn 
Johnny Weissmuller 
Sonja Henie 
Esther Williams 
Errol Flynn 
John Garfield 
Orson Welles 
Gary Cooper 
Clark Gable 
Humphrey Bogart 
Spencer Tracy 
James Stewart 
Hedy Lamarr 
Lana Turner 
Paulette Goddard 
Anne Sheridan 
Dorothy Lamour 
Betty Grable 
Rita Hayworth 
Greer Garson 
Margaret O'Brien 
Van Johnson 
June Allyson 
Bob Hope 
Bing Crosby 
Ingrid Bergman 
Cary Grant 
John Wayne 
Ava Gardner 
Gregory Peck 
Alan Ladd 
Kim Novak 
William Holden 
Montgomery Clift 
Deborah Kerr 
Grace Kelly 
Marlon Brando 
Frank Sinatra 
Audrey Hepburn 
Burt Lancaster 
Marilyn Monroe 
Charlton Heston 
Rock Hudson 
Shirley MacLaine 
Jack Lemmon 
Sophia Loren 
Tony Curtis 
Elizabeth Taylor 



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